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Author Archive for Jolynn Craig

Last week’s economic readings included the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Consumer sentiment for August was reported by the University of Michigan. Weekly reports on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB: Builder Confidence Jumps 4 Points in August

Builder confidence in housing market conditions improved by four index points in August after reaching its lowest reading in eight months in July. Builder confidence rose in consideration of a strong labor market and overall economic growth. Obstacles including labor shortages, rising materials costs and a lack of buildable lots continued to present obstacles to builders producing homes at a pace sufficient to meet high demand and alleviate low inventories of homes for sale.

Housing starts were lower in July at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.155 million starts and fell short of 1.229 million starts. 1.223 million starts were reported in July. Single family home construction was higher as builders focus on meeting demand for single-family homes. Building permits issued in July were also lower at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.223 million permits issued as compared to July’s reading of 1,275 million permits issued.

Mortgage Rates Mixed, New Jobless Claims Lower

Average rates for fixed rate mortgages fell last week. 30-year fixed rate mortgage rates averaged 3.89 percent at one basis point lower than the previous week. Rates for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage averaged 3.16 percent and were two basis points lower than the previous week. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose two basis points to 3.16 percent. Discount points averaged 0.40 percent for 30-year fixed rate mortgages, 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.40 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims were lower last week with 232,000 new claims filed as compared to expectations of 241,000 new claims and 244,000 new claims filed the prior week.

August’s reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index was higher at 97.6 as compared to an expected reading of 94.8 and July’s index reading of 93.4. Growing consumer confidence could along with improving job markets and economic expansion could prompt renters to buy homes.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include readings on sales of new and previously owned homes along with weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

Is It Possible to Get a Mortgage With Less-than-Perfect Credit? Yes – and Here's HowAre you thinking about buying a new house? Whether you’re a first-time or experienced buyer, if your credit score isn’t looking too hot it can affect how much mortgage financing you receive – or whether you’re approved at all! But don’t fret. It’s still possible to get a mortgage approved, even with credit issues. Below we’ll share a few ways that you can get a mortgage loan even if your credit is less than perfect.

Consider An FHA-Guaranteed Mortgage

For many individuals with credit issues, the Federal Housing Administration’s guaranteed loan programs are a good choice. In essence, the FHA guarantees your mortgage with select lenders, which allows them to worry less about the risk of lending to someone with past credit problems. It’s worth noting that FHA programs do come with some additional costs attached. Mortgage insurance may be assessed, which helps to protect the mortgage lender in case you default. And there may or may not be an additional monthly premium cost as well.

Do Everything You Can To Improve Your Credit Score

Before taking the next step and applying for a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure your FICO credit score is as high as possible. Call or visit the website of one of the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. You’ll want to review any outstanding issues on the report and eliminate anything that shouldn’t be there. For example, in the past, you may have had a credit card or small loan that went into collections yet is still in the report even though you paid it. Contact the credit agency to challenge anything that shouldn’t be on your report.

Don’t Stretch Beyond Your Means

If and when you’re approved for a mortgage, it’s critical to remember not to reach beyond your ability to pay the mortgage payments each month. Yes, it might seem like an excellent idea to get a larger or more luxurious house if a larger mortgage is offered to you. However, don’t forget that you’ll need to manage payments each month for many years and it’s tough to predict the future.

Try not to worry if you have a low credit or FICO score and you’re interested in buying a home. A great first step would be to contact your professional mortgage advisor. We’re here to help navigate the mortgage application process and can explain how your credit score will impact your chances.

You Ask, We Answer: What Kind of Fees Are Involved When I Get a Reverse Mortgage?If you are approaching your golden years and seeking a bit of financial flexibility, you might want to look at a reverse mortgage. This unique financial product is only open to individuals over 62 years of age. It allows you to convert some of your home’s equity into cash which you can use as needed in your retirement.

Of course, a reverse mortgage isn’t without its costs. Let’s explore the fees that you will encounter when you take out a reverse mortgage loan.

Upfront And Pre-Closing Costs

The first step in getting a reverse mortgage (also known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage or “HECM”) is to visit with a third-party HECM advisor. These advisors are approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It is their job to ensure that you know the ins and outs of getting a reverse mortgage. Expect to pay from $100 to $200 for this session.

Another cost you’ll incur is a home appraisal. Every reverse mortgage lender will require that your home’s value assessed by an independent appraiser. This cost varies from $200 to $500 and up depending on the size of your home, its current condition, its age and a variety of other factors.

Like a traditional mortgage, your lender is likely to assess an origination fee. This fee covers the cost of processing and closing your reverse mortgage loan. Most lenders charge a small percentage of the total amount of your loan. For example, if you are borrowing $100,000 you may pay around one or two percent, which comes to $1,000 or $2,000. Regardless of the total amount, the origination fee is capped at $6,000 total.

Post-Closing And Ongoing Costs

After your reverse mortgage has closed, you may find that there are some additional ongoing costs that you will need to be aware of. For example, some lenders charge a loan servicing fee. This fee is usually paid each month and tends to vary depending on the interest rate of your reverse mortgage.

Finally, you’ll be responsible for paying the ongoing cost of mortgage insurance. This is assessed as an annual premium and equals around 1.25 percent of the balance owing. As this can end up being a significant cost, it is one you’ll want to budget for.

As with any loan, a reverse mortgage has its costs. However, the financial flexibility you gain with a reverse mortgage is certainly worth it. When you’re ready to explore your reverse mortgage options, contact our friendly team of mortgage professionals. We’re happy to help.

Getting Tired of Renting? Here Are the Top 5 Reasons Why Young People Prefer Owning a HomeAt some point in their lives, every renter thinks about home ownership and whether or not it’s worth it. Let’s explore the top 5 reasons why young individuals prefer the idea of owning a home over renting.

It’s All About Control

It’s unlikely to come as a surprise that having control over their living space is the number one reason that younger buyers prefer owning over renting. Living in a home owned by someone else limits your ability to customize your home. Want to expand a room or rip out the kitchen cabinets? Good luck with getting your landlord to pay for that!

Privacy And Security Are Key

More than 90 percent of millennials reported that having a sense of privacy is an important factor when choosing between buying and renting. And this makes a lot of sense, especially in areas where a landlord has the right to enter the premises on short notice. It’s tough to imagine feeling secure when a landlord can demand access to their home for whatever reason they so choose.

Your Own Space Is Just Nicer

Take a look around your home. Is it as luxurious as you’d like it to be? While you can furnish a rented apartment or house however you want, in many cases, renters just don’t put the same amount of effort into it. 81% of young renters shared that one reason they want to buy is so that they can live in a nicer place.

You’ll Be More Engaged In The Community

If you want to feel more engaged in your local community, buying a home is an excellent idea. More than 75 percent of young and first-time buyers reported that community engagement is a key reason that they want to be a home owner. Not only are you more likely to care about the area around your home if you’re responsible for its upkeep. But as the value of your home is influenced by the surrounding area, you also have a financial incentive to staying engaged in the health of your community.

Owning Gives You Flexibility

Finally, consider that owning your own home will offer flexibility that you can’t get from renting. Not only will you be able to customize your home the way you want, but you’ll also have a productive financial asset. And that can be a huge help in securing additional credit if you want to make significant investments or other financial moves.

When you’re ready to expand your freedom by purchasing your own home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. We’re happy to help.

3 Reasons to Hit the Accelerator on Your Mortgage Payments If You Can Afford ItDoes the thought of repaying your mortgage for the next twenty-plus years leave you feeling a little down? Whether you’ve had your mortgage for weeks or years, accelerating your payments is an excellent option that can help get your mortgage fully paid off in a shorter time frame. Let’s explore three great reasons to accelerate your payments so that your mortgage debt is paid down faster.

You’ll Be Debt-Free That Much Faster

It may seem obvious, but it’s worth stating that you’ll be debt-free that much quicker if you accelerate your repayment schedule. Every extra payment you make against your mortgage debt builds the amount of equity you own in your home. So not only are you becoming more debt-free with each payment, but you’re also building your net worth. And while it’s true that you might only shave a year or two off of your 25-year mortgage period, being debt-free faster is still worth the effort.

You’ll Pay Less Interest

With most mortgages, any extra payments that you make will go straight towards your ‘principal’ balance. Getting the principal paid down faster means that you’ll end up paying less in interest than if you hadn’t. If you consider that every year you shave off of a 20-year amortization period is a full year of interest that you won’t have to pay, it adds up. Note that if you have an existing mortgage agreement, you’ll need to check the terms to determine the rules around extra principal payments.

You’ll Have More Financial Freedom

Finally, the faster you get your mortgage paid off, the more financial freedom you’ll have. The equity and credit you’ve built over time will also provide you with some options. You can invest in buying an investment property, or in taking out a line of credit to renovate and upgrade your current home. If the numbers make sense, you can also borrow against your home equity to invest in the financial markets. This will diversify your investment portfolio and expand your net worth.

As you can see, it’s well worth the financial investment to accelerate your mortgage repayment. If you can afford it and it won’t significantly lower your quality of life. If you have questions about a mortgage new or existing, contact our team of mortgage professionals. We’re happy to help.

5 Things That First-time Home Buyers Wish They Knew Before They SignedWithout a doubt, it can be both overwhelming and exciting to find your dream home and be able to put the money down for it. However, there are a lot of things to know before signing on the dotted line so you can avoid buyer’s remorse. Instead of going it alone, here are a few tips to keep in mind before you decide to commit to your new home.

A Good Agent Is Important

Many homeowners want to find the right place on their own, but having an agent along to assist you in the process can go a long way towards finding your ideal home at the right price. Instead of risking it, choose an agent that comes highly recommended and has an abundance of experience in the business.

Is The Price Right?

It’s easy to be taken in by a beautiful home, but before putting money down you’ll want to calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to make sure it’s within reach. You may feel like you can make it work, but paying a too-high mortgage will become a drain over time and may ruin the happiness of your home investment.

What’s The Potential?

When it comes to first-time buying, many potential homeowners go into it with unrealistic expectations. However, demanding too much of your investment can mean you miss out on the gems that have a lot of hidden potential. Instead of saying ‘no’ right away, consider what you can improve for little cost.

Researching The Neighborhood

The focus for many homeowners is definitely the house, but ‘location, location, location’ is a cliche; for a reason. Instead of focusing only on your home, ensure you’ll be living in a neighborhood where you can feel safe and will have access to all the amenities you need.

Investing In An Inspector

A home inspection may feel like a formality, but it’s important to have the right inspector so they will notice maintenance items that can hugely impact your finances. While little items that need to be fixed-up are not a big deal, issues with the foundation or the roof can cause major grievances if they’re not detected.

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when it comes to buying a home, but by doing your research and being aware of your financial outlook, you’ll be well on your way to a good investment. If you’re currently in the market for a home, please contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage PaymentsIt’s not uncommon for a homeowner to want to pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment on their home. However, just because it can seem hard to come up with the funds on a monthly basis doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you’re wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

Relinquish Your Refund

Many people look forward to tax time because it’s an opportunity to spend their refund on shopping, dining or a much-needed vacation. However, using your tax refund to pay down your debt can actually be a satisfying way to put more down on your mortgage and achieve something lasting from that extra bit of cash. While you may want to set some aside for an outing or a special treat, the amount remaining on your mortgage will seriously benefit from the extra payment.

Re-Tool Your Budget

If you’ve been successful at making your mortgage payments, it’s likely that you have a working budget that you stick to each month. But like any plan, a budget can change. If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s worth sitting down to re-calculate your monthly income and expenses. There’s a good chance that some expenses exist that you can pare down or get rid of entirely. While it may not make a significant difference in one month, small amounts will add up over time.

Plan A Yard Sale

It’s easy to acquire a lot of things that you don’t necessarily use, whether it’s technology or kitchenware or home decorations. Fortunately, planning a yard sale for your infrequently used items can be a great way to come up with a small fortune to pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, you’ll need to be ready to haggle to get the prices you’re looking for. And don’t forget to get the locals involved and make it a neighborhood event for even more selling success.

It may seem nearly impossible to come up with the money to put more down on your mortgage, but using your tax refund and re-tooling your budget can easily add up to savings that make a difference! If you’re considering buying a new home in the future, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Finding Your Latte Factor: 3 Ways to Find the Money to Make Extra Mortgage PaymentsIt’s not uncommon for a homeowner to want to pay more than the minimum monthly mortgage payment on their home. However, just because it can seem hard to come up with the funds on a monthly basis doesn’t mean it’s not possible to find the money for extra mortgage payments each year. If you’re wondering how you can pay down your mortgage debt much sooner with extra money, here are some tricks you may want to try.

Relinquish Your Refund

Many people look forward to tax time because it’s an opportunity to spend their refund on shopping, dining or a much-needed vacation. However, using your tax refund to pay down your debt can actually be a satisfying way to put more down on your mortgage and achieve something lasting from that extra bit of cash. While you may want to set some aside for an outing or a special treat, the amount remaining on your mortgage will seriously benefit from the extra payment.

Re-Tool Your Budget

If you’ve been successful at making your mortgage payments, it’s likely that you have a working budget that you stick to each month. But like any plan, a budget can change. If you haven’t done so in a while, it’s worth sitting down to re-calculate your monthly income and expenses. There’s a good chance that some expenses exist that you can pare down or get rid of entirely. While it may not make a significant difference in one month, small amounts will add up over time.

Plan A Yard Sale

It’s easy to acquire a lot of things that you don’t necessarily use, whether it’s technology or kitchenware or home decorations. Fortunately, planning a yard sale for your infrequently used items can be a great way to come up with a small fortune to pay off your mortgage sooner. Of course, you’ll need to be ready to haggle to get the prices you’re looking for. And don’t forget to get the locals involved and make it a neighborhood event for even more selling success.

It may seem nearly impossible to come up with the money to put more down on your mortgage, but using your tax refund and re-tooling your budget can easily add up to savings that make a difference! If you’re considering buying a new home in the future, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Investing in a New Home? 3 Reasons You Can't Skip the Pest InspectionThere are so many small details involved in the final purchase of a home that it can be easy to lose track of the things that need to be done. While you won’t be able to forget about a home inspection, a pest inspection can be every bit as important before you sign on the dotted line. If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t forego this important step, consider the following information.

The Final Offer

Few people want to deal with problems, especially when it comes to their dream home. But the entire purpose of a pest inspection is to ensure you know about these problems before you sign on the dotted line. If pest issues are discovered, you’ll still have some decisions to make as to how you want to proceed. You can push the problem back to the homeowner to deal with, or buy the home knowing about the pest issue and use it to negotiate a lower price.

Insurance May Not Help

Homeowner’s insurance will cover your home and belongings in the event of a natural disaster, fire or flood. And in some cases, your policy will cover damage due to pests. However, much of the rot and other damage that pests cause occurs over a long period of time. In these cases, your insurer may not cover the damage, or you may be on the hook for a significant deductible. In any case, your policy may require that you get an inspection when you purchase the home so be sure to check with your insurer.

Feeling Home At Home

Much like experiencing a burglary, discovering a pest problem in your home can be an unsettling experience. Unfortunately, if you’ve just moved into your new home, it can be even more difficult to get comfortable if you think pests are crawling around. It’s important to schedule a pest inspection so you can be sure there are no impediments to enjoying your new home. Yes, it’s one more cost involved before the deal is sealed, but the money spent will be well worth your comfort.

These are just three of the many reasons to invest in a professional pest inspection when buying a new home. It’s a small price to pay to ensure that your home is free of damage-causing pests. If you’re currently getting ready to invest in a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for the inside scoop.

Buying a Home in a Fire Risk Area: Here's What You Need to KnowOutside of the significant financial responsibility of delving into home ownership, there can also be a lot of other risks involved that you may not have thought about before investing in a home. You’ll need to protect your home against theft or burglary. And homeowner’s insurance to protect your home and belongings is almost a requirement. But there are other less common occurrences you may not have thought about. If you happen to be living in an area that’s at high risk of fire, here are some things to consider beforehand.

Defining “High Risk”

It’s easy to be swept away by a beautiful home and forget about what the natural landscape around it consists of. Many homes across the United States are built in areas close to trees and shrubs, which can be dangerous in times of high temperatures, so it’s important to do your research. While hot spots can occur in many different areas, California and the southwest region are particularly vulnerable in times of drought.

What It Means For Your Mortgage

Nearly all homes can be adversely affected by a fire so it’s important to realize that buying in a high-risk area will not impact your ability to get a mortgage. It can, however, impact some of the costs associated with investing in your home. While homeowner’s insurance is a requirement of buying a home and it will generally cover you in the incidence of a fire, it can be a bit pricier. Fortunately, you may be able to guard against some of the additional costs by purchasing a home with materials that are more fire resistant.

In The Event Of Fire

If the worst happens and your home incurs damage from a fire, you’ll want to assess the extent of the damage before making a decision. For a home that is minimally impacted, you may want to use insurance to repair the property. However, if the property is significantly or completely destroyed, a payout may be required in order to pay off the mortgage. Before purchasing a home in a fire-prone area it’s best to be aware of all aspects of your insurance policy so you can be prepared.

It’s a more significant risk to buy a home in a fire-prone area, but you can be prepared for the worst by knowing your options. If you’re currently considering purchasing a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for more information.

Last week’s economic news included releases from the National Association of Home Builders and releases from the Commerce Department on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims were also released.

NAHB Housing Market Index Dips; Builder Sentiment Remains Strong

Higher lumber costs were cited by the National Association of Home Builders as contributing to lower readings for the group’s monthly Housing Market Index. July’s reading was two points lower than May’s index reading. The original May reading of 67 was adjusted to 66.

Builders said that a steep tariff on Canadian lumber has raised building costs, but sentiment remains high as high demand for homes coupled with short supplies of homes for sale set the stage for new home construction. Builder confidence in market conditions for newly-built homes remained strong as any NAHB Index reading over 50 indicates that more builders than fewer have a positive outlook on market conditions.

Commerce Department: Housing Starts and Building Permits Increase in June

Housing starts increased in June to 1.215 starts on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis. Analysts expected 1.163 million housing starts based on 1.122 million housing starts reported in May. Building permits were issued at a higher rate in June, with the annual rate of 1.254 million permits issued as compared to May’s rate of 1.168 million permits issued on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.

Single-family housing starts rose 6.30 percent as compared to May’s reading, which suggested that builders are focusing on building new homes for sale rather than concentrating on multi-family rental projects. If this trend continues, new construction of single-family homes would help ease severe shortages of homes for sale.

Mortgage Rates, New Jobless Claims Lower

Freddie Mac reported lower mortgage rates last week with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage falling seven basis points to 3.96 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was six basis points lower to 3.23 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage was seven basis points lower at 3.21 percent. Discount points averaged 0.60 percent 30-year fixed rate mortgages and 0.50 percent for 15-year fixed rate mortgages and 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

New jobless claims reached their second-lowest post-recession level last week with a reading of 233,000 first-time claims filed. Analysts expected a reading of 245,000 new claims based on the prior week’s reading of 248,000 new claims filed.

Whats Ahead

Economic releases set for this week include readings on new and previously-owned home sales, Case-Shiller’s Home Price Index reports, and the post-meeting statement of the Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will be released along with data on consumer sentiment from the University of Michigan.

NAHB: Builder Confidence in Market Conditions Dips in July

According to the National Association of Home Builders, July builder sentiment dipped to an index reading of 64 as compared to June’s revised reading of 66, the original reading was 67. Analysts expected the reading for July to increase to 68. Builders cited increasing lumber prices as a concern affecting builders’ outlook on housing market conditions for new single-family homes. Any reading over 50 for the NAHB Housing Market Index indicates that more builders than fewer are positive about housing market conditions, but July’s reading was the lowest in eight months. NAHB said that home builder confidence in market condition “remains strong.”

Three month rolling averages were mixed. The Northwestern region gained one point for an index reading of 47, the Midwest gained one point to a reading of 66 and the Southern region dropped three points to a reading of 66. The Western region had the highest level of builder confidence but lost one point for a reading of 75.

Shortages of homes for sale and buildable lots have impacted builder confidence for several months. As the number of available homes dwindles, demand and home prices have risen. Real estate pros view building more home as the only solution for easing the shortage of homes for sale Lower readings on builder confidence in market conditions could indicate slowing in the construction of new homes.

Lumber Tariff Raises  New Home Prices, Could Cost Jobs

While home builder confidence jumped in the aftermath of the election, builders said that a tariff on Canadian lumber is affecting home prices and construction jobs. In a statement released with July’s Housing Market Index readings, NAHB said that the lumber tariff tacked on an average of  $1236 to the average home price. NAHB leaders also said that as materials costs continue to rise, affordability will become an issue and that construction layoffs could potentially exceed 8000 jobs.

NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald said about the lumber tariff, this is hurting housing affordability even as consumer interest in the new-home market remains strong” While current interest in new homes is healthy, home builders will have to manage costs to keep home prices affordable and competitive.