Market Watch – Rates Dip

We saw more activity in the market as rates dropped in a volatile business environment. Applications were up 7% and Freddie Mac reported the average rate on the average 30-year fixed mortgage was 6.60% this fell to 6.60% this week down from last weeks rate of 6.73%.

In statement by Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist Sam Khater, he said “turbulence in the financial markets is putting significant downward pressure on rates, which should benefit borrowers in the short-term.”
And he continued, “our research concludes that homebuyers can potentially save $600 to $1,200 annually by taking the time to shop among multiple lenders.”
Check with us about your options as the market is in a period of volatility. You can use our quick analysis our website and we will auto-schedule a review of your options.

Pros and Cons of Buying a Fixer-Upper

With increased borrowing costs, many buyers are seeing their options limited, and you might be considering buying a fixer-upper. We’ve all seen the home make-over shows with amazing before and afters, but is it right for you?
Here are a few things to consider:
1. Know Your Limits
How much of the work can you do. How much time do you have to put into renovations. Are you prepared to live in a work zone for a while
2. Work Out Costs In Advance
Have a contractor walk through the inspection with you and get a written estimate for work he would do. If you are doing the work yourself price the costs of supplies, either way add 15% to the costs because surprises are likely.
3. Check Permitting Costs and Procedures
Check with local officials to see if the work requires a permit and the permit costs.
4. Be Extra Careful with Structural Issues
If the house requires structural repairs then double check the work and pricing. Hire a structural engineer to do an inspection and if structural work needs to be done make sure your bid discounts this work
5. Include Inspection Contingencies
Make sure you hire professional inspectors and check for hidden issues like mold, piping issues, pest damage etc., if things come up ask for discounts. And if too many red flags come up or the seller won’t properly discount the costs for repair then stand firm and walk away and keep looking!
With the real estate market in flux check with us to get pre-qualified and know your options – just fill out our quick consultation on our home page to get started!

5 Strategies For Making Your Down Payment

For many people buying a home is the American dream but saving for the down payment might not be. Here are some tips and strategies to make your down payment.
1. First-time home buyer programs. There are a number of first time home buyer programs such as FHA, VA and USDA loans that have lower down payment requirements than conventional loans.
2. Old fashioned monthly savings – this takes longer but make a monthly budget of your spending – see where you can cut back and see how much you can save monthly – then commit to saving towards your down payment each month.
3. Tax Return – with tax season here, if you are getting a refund, try setting it aside towards your down payment.
4. Get side gig – if you have enough time consider getting a side gig and save the money from that.
5. Ask – its fairly common for parents to help their kids with money towards down payments today (for those lucky enough to have this option), you can also consider asking friends and family for cash instead of gifts to help you put towards your house.
The market is changing and it also helps to see how much you’ll need to save and what you can qualify for – so please fill out our quick qualifier on our website to get a good idea of what you can qualify for.

Costs Drop For Some Buyers

With recent market volatility we have good news for some new home buyers. Starting in March, those who are receiving FHA financing and paying mortgage insurance will see the monthly fee reduced from 0.85% to 0.55%. This is expected to affect 850,000 borrowers this year and result in an average savings of $800 annually. The savings will vary based on the loan amount, for example a person with a $500,000 FHA loan would save $1,500 annually.
If you are in the market for a new home, fill out our quick home qualifier on our website and we can help determine what loan best fits your needs and let you know how much you can pre-qualify for.

Refi To Pay Off Debts?

We don’t have to tell you that interest rates have gone up in the past year, so refinancing now may seem unusual but if you have a lot of debt, like credit card debt, those rates have gone up even more.The average American has nearly $40,000 in debt not including home loans so today we ask if you consider a cash-out refinance to pay off other debts like credit card debt. Credit card interest rates are normally much higher than mortgage interest rates and if you are carrying high credit card debt while making minimum payments, there is an opportunity to save a lot in monthly credit card payments that are primarily going to pay high interest rates on the debt. First you will need enough equity in your home to get a cash-out refinance. With real estate values increasing in recent years, many people have seen their home value rise so they may qualify for cash-out. You’ll still need to maintain equity in the home at 80-90% to avoid paying mortgage insurance and you will have to get an appraisal and pay closing costs which will be subtracted from the cash out amount. Of course, contact us to see if a cashing out to pay off your debt makes sense for you. And remember you’re not actually eliminating the debt you’re just saving on high interest payments so be careful not to start spending again

Jumbo Versus Conventional

We are often asked about jumbo loans and when they are used, so here’s an explainer (or refresher). For conventional mortgages there are two general types conforming and nonconforming. Conventional conforming loans for most areas are $726,200 or $1,089,300 for select areas with high housing prices for 2023 as set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. A jumbo loan would be a nonconforming loan that exceeds those limits.

If you are looking to buy a home that is high priced and don’t have a huge down payment you will likely need a jumbo loan. A jumbo loan with its higher loan amount is often going to have higher qualifying requirements than a conventional loan – including higher down payments and credit scores as well as lower debt to income (DTI) ratio.

In terms of conventional versus jumbo – it may be jumbo out of necessity if you are looking at a high priced home as previously noted. Complete our quick analysis and we can help you see what programs you qualify for and what fits your needs!

Build Or Buy A House?

Is it cheaper to build a new home or buy an existing house? According to census data the median cost of a newly built house was
$534,600 in November 2022 versus $454,900 for an existing home in October 2022.
Of course, there are pros and cons to both buying and building.
If you are building a new home some the biggest pros will be you have a custom-built home, that is brand new and move in ready. You may also have lower bills with newer efficient appliances and systems. Some of larger cons are time – this means more of your time; you’ll likely have to be more involved and review construction decisions and options which can be a challenge if you have your hands full with work and family. Building also takes longer with an average of over seven months for new construction. You can also experience cost over-runs and contractor / sub-contractor delays.

Buying an existing home as we noted tends to be cheaper and you’ll be able to move in much sooner. You may also be able to negotiate for a lower price if a home has been on the market for over 30 days. Additionally, if you are looking to live in a specific area you may have more options. Of course, if you buy an existing home you will have to compromise on layout and features versus building your own home. Depending on the age of home you may also have older appliances and systems.

Building or buying are also going to have different financing options. Schedule a consultation with us on our website and we can review the options to give you a better idea of your specific options.

ARM Loans 2023 Overview

An adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) is a type of mortgage in which the interest rate can fluctuate over time. The key advantage of an ARM is that its initial interest rate is usually lower than that of a similar fixed-rate mortgage, making your monthly payments more affordable initially. Depending on the terms of the ARM, these lower payments can last for several years or even a decade. This makes it a good option for those who plan to stay in their home for a short period of time, and move before the ARM resets to a variable rate. As interest rates rise, payments will also increase. ARMs can also be beneficial if you anticipate a significant increase in income or assets in the future. When the ARM resets, you will be able to pay off the loan or refinance into another mortgage. Additionally, choosing an ARM can be a wise strategy when interest rates are on the rise, but haven’t reached their peak yet. This allows you to lock in a rate that protects you from further increases. By the time the ARM resets, interest rates may have dropped, making it possible to refinance into a lower fixed-rate mortgage.
Here are some general requirements (but these are guidelines and check with us for specific details)
For a conventional ARM the credit score will generally need to be at least 620 (FHA and VA may be lower). 
ARM DTI (Debt-to-Income ratio) generally can’t exceed 50%
ARM down payments are generally at least 5% on conventional loans and lower for FHA.
Schedule a free consultation with us on our website and we can review your specific situation to see what best fits your needs.

Home Sweet Equity – How To Maximize It

Owning a house can come with many advantages, including an increase in property value when the real estate market is rising. Not only does this mean a profit when you put your home up for sale, but also grants you the ability to leverage equity as needed. If you have equity and are unsure of how to take advantage of it, here are 5 options.

Debt Consolidation – with interesting rates rising, the interest payments on credit cards and personal loans can be big part of the payment. If you have equity a loan to consolidate the debt into a lower interest rate may be worth considering (of course be careful not to incur too much new credit card debt).

Higher Ed – if you have children getting ready for college – a HELOC or home equity line of credit may offer a lower rate than student loans.

Medical Expenses – If you have outstanding medical bills a HELOC can potentially offer a lower rate and avoid credit score issues with late or missed payments

Home Improvements – if your home has increased in value, one of the most popular uses of equity is a home improvement office – this can be as large as a new edition, a kitchen remodel or a bathroom upgrade.

Of course, please schedule an appointment with us if you are considering leveraging your equity and we can advice you on your specific situation.

5 Ways To Raise Your Credit Score

A good credit score is part of getting approved for a mortgage, it will also help you get a lower interest rate.
Here are some quick things to do to check and possibly improve your score.
Before we get started though, the first thing you should do is get your credit report!
You can order it free here – Now that you have your report lets get to those tips! 🤓
1. Check for Errors! You want the report to be clean and mistake free. Check if there are misspellings of your name or addresses. Other things might be duplicate accounts, incorrect account information, closed accounts that are still listed as open, fraud etc!
2. Clean up the Errors! If you found something wrong the next step is to get the errors fixed. You can contact the major three bureaus directly to fix any errors! Be prepared with paperwork to back up your case! Here are links to the three bureaus on how to address errors:
3. Pay Late Or Past Due Accounts This is important! Pay these off whenever possible. Here is a pro-tip: if you have an account with a late fee or in collection – contact them before paying and ask them to remove the record entirely if you pay the account off. This will really help your score!
4. Pay On Time Ok this is obvious but its important too – even if its the minimum payment make sure you get the payments in on time.
5. Open New Accounts Or Increase Your Limits This will help your credit to improve your credit utilization rate – how much of your available credit you use. The lower the rate used the better so don’t open a new card and max it out – just open it and use it a little and pay it off monthly if possible.
These are five quick tips that can really help boost your credit before you apply for a mortgage. If you are ready to apply contact us today and we will be glad to review the options with and see what best fits your needs!