Monday, August 16, 2010

Sources for Obtaining a Mortgage :Direct Lenders

Direct Lenders: originate, fund and service your loan. Direct lenders are generally larger organizations than mortgage brokers and better capitalized. Direct lenders have fewer programs than mortgage brokers but may have more knowledge of the details of their programs. The loan officer at a direct lender generally has better access to underwriters (the people who approve loans) than a mortgage broker. This may sometimes mean faster approvals.
Direct lenders may be:
Mortgage Bankers
Specialize in originating and servicing loans. They generally sell their loans to investors like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Their underwriting guidelines (rules to make loan decisions) are supplied to them by their investors. Mortgage bankers may interpret these guidelines based on their own lending philosophy.
Offer a wide range of financial services including mortgages. They generally offer a few select mortgage programs. Banks may keep loans in their portfolio or sell their loans. Banks may also work with other mortgage bankers to originate their loans.
Savings and Loans
Generally offer portfolio-adjustable loans which are easier to qualify for than most other loans. Many S&Ls offer reduced documentation loans that are ideal for self-employed borrowers. Many S&Ls have started offering fixed loans that are sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac like mortgage bankers.
Finance Companies
Generally specialize in B and C paper loans for poor-credit borrowers, as well as 2nd mortgages. They generally raise money by selling bonds or commercial paper on Wall Street.
Private Investors
Like to earn high returns––so they typically invest in riskier loans that banks do not want to touch. Most of these loans are based on equity alone.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Sources for Obtaining a Mortgage

Mortgage Brokers: Mortgage brokers have increased market share and now are the single largest source for mortgage loans. A mortgage broker obtains financing through the wholesale department of a lender.
Because mortgage brokers can represent many different lenders they often have the most choice in loan programs. It normally does not cost you more to use a broker. This is because lenders offer wholesale prices to brokers. Mortgage Brokers then mark up the price and quote retail prices.
Because mortgage brokers have a wide range of programs they can often find the best program to fit your needs. Many mortgage brokers are small entrepreneurial firms that are flexible and willing to work with your demands and schedules.
The key is finding a GOOD mortgage broker. There is little consistency between mortgage broker firms. The difference in rates, programs and service between mortgage brokers can be dramatic. The best way to locate and identify a GOOD mortgage broker is:
  1. Ask if they are a member of NAMB (National Assoc. of Mortgage Brokers).
  2. Ask for references. Check with the Better Business Bureau or your local chamber of commerce.
  3. Ask your friends if have done business with mortgage brokers they are happy with.
  4. Find out which mortgage brokers publish or advertise their rates daily. This way you can monitor their rates.
  5. Use mortgage brokers on the Internet!! Support electronic commerce and do business with companies on the 'Net. Let's build that highway together!

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Getting a home equity credit line.

Getting a home equity credit line.

  1. Not checking to see if your credit line has a pre-payment penalty clause.
        If you are getting a "NO FEE" credit line, chances are it has a pre-payment penalty clause.  This can be very important (and expensive) if you are planning to sell or refinance your home in the next three to five years.
  2. Getting too large a credit line.
        When you get too large a credit line, you can be turned down for other loans.  Some lenders calculate your credit line payments based upon the available credit, even when your credit line has a zero balance. Having a large credit line indicates a large potential payment, which makes it difficult to qualify for loans.
  3. Not understanding the difference between an equity loan and a credit line.
        An equity loan is closed--i.e., you get all your money up front, then make payments on that fixed loan amount until the loan is paid.  An equity credit line is open--i.e., you can get an initial advance against the line, then reuse the line as often as you want during the period the line is open.  Most credit lines are accessed through a checkbook or a credit card.  Credit line payments are based upon the outstanding balance.
        Use an equity loan when you need all the money up front--e.g. home improvements or debt consolidation.
        Use a credit line if you have an ongoing need for money or need the money for a future event--e.g., you need to pay for your child's college tuition in three years. 

  4. Not checking the lifecap on your equity line.
        Many credit lines have lifecaps of 18%.  Be prepared to make high interest payments if rates move upwards.
  5. Getting a credit line from your local bank without shopping around.
        Many consumers get their credit line from the bank with which they have their checking account.  Shop around before deciding to use your bank.
  6. Not getting a good-faith estimate of closing costs.
        Within three working days after receipt of your completed loan application, your mortgage company is required to provide you with a written good-faith estimate of closing costs. 
  7. Assuming that the interest on your home credit line/loan is tax deductible.
        In some instances, the interest on your home credit line is NOT tax deductible.
        It is beyond the scope of this document to provide tax advice or quote from the IRS code.  Contact an accountant or CPA to determine your particular situation.

  8. Assuming a home equity line is always cheaper than a car loan or a credit card. 
        A credit card at 6.9% can be cheaper than a credit line at 12%, even after the tax deduction.  To compare rates, compare the effective rate of your credit line with the rate on a credit card or auto loan.
    Effective rate  =  rate * (1 - tax bracket)
        Example:  If the rate of the home equity credit line is 12% and your tax bracket is 30%, your effective rate is12% * (1 - 0.3) = 12% * 0.7 = 8.4%
        If your credit card is higher than 8.4%, the credit line is cheaper.
        Besides the interest rate, you may also want to compare monthly payments and other terms of the loan.

  9. Getting a home equity credit line if you plan to refinance your first mortgage in the near future.
        Many mortgage companies look at the combined loan amounts (i.e., the first loan plus the equity line/loan) even though they are refinancing only the first mortgage.  If you plan on refinancing your first loan, check with your mortgage company to determine if getting a second line/loan will cause your refinance to be turned down.
  10.     Getting a home equity credit line to pay off your credit cards if your spending is out of control!
        When you pay off your credit cards with your credit line, don't put your home on the line by charging large amounts on your credit cards again!  If you can't manage the plastic, get rid of it!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Refinancing your home

Refinancing your home

  1. Refinancing with your current lender without shopping around. 
        Your current lender may not have the best rates and programs.
        Believing it's easier to work with your current lender is a common misconception.  In most cases, they'll require the same documentation as other lenders and mortgage brokers.  This is because most loans are sold on the secondary market and have to be approved independently.  Even if you've been good at making payments to your existing lender, they'll still have to process the verifications all over again.

  2. Not doing a break-even analysis.
        Determine the total transaction costs and how much you'll save each month by lowering your monthly mortgage payment.  Divide the transaction costs by the monthly savings to determine the number of months you'll have to stay in the property to recoup your refinancing costs.
        For example, if the costs of refinancing total $2000, and you save $50 per month, you break-even in 2000/50 = 40 months.  In this case, you should only refinance if you plan to stay in the home for at least 40 months.

    Note: The above example is suited to comparing two similar loans when the intent is to lower your monthly payment and recoup transaction costs relatively quickly.  Other refinancing transactions require different kinds of analyses which are beyond the scope of this document.  Other types of refinancing transactions include exchanging a fixed rate for an ARM, or a 30 year mortgage for a 15 year mortgage.

  3. Not getting a written good-faith estimate of closing costs.
        Within 3 working days after receipt of your completed loan application, your mortgage company is required to provide you with a written good-faith estimate of closing costs.
  4. Paying for a home appraisal when you think the appraised value may be too low. 
        Have the appraisal company conduct a Desktop/drive-by appraisal and provide you with a range of possible values. Your mortgage company can ask an appraiser to do this for you.
        Do not waste your money on a complete appraisal if you believe the home is unreasonably priced.

  5. Using the county tax assessor's value as the market value of your home.
        Mortgage companies do not use the county tax assessor's value to help determine if they'll originate your loan. They, like real estate agents, usually use the sales comparison approach (formerly known as the market data comparison approach).
  6. Signing documents without reading them. 
        Do not sign documents in a hurry.  As soon as possible, review the documents you'll be signing at close of escrow--including a copy of all loan documents.  This way, you can review them and get your questions answered in a timely manner.  Do not expect to read all the documents during the closing. There is rarely enough time to do that.
  7. Not providing your mortgage company with documents in a timely manner.
        When your mortgage company asks you for additional paperwork--get cracking!  They're trying to get you approved!  If you don't quickly respond to your broker's requests, you could end up paying higher rates should your rate lock expire.
  8. Not getting a rate lock in writing.
        When a mortgage company tells you they've locked your rate, get a written statement detailing the interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and other particulars about the program.
  9. Drawing against your home equity credit line before you refinance your first mortgage.
        Many lenders have "cash-out" seasoning requirements.   If you draw against your credit line for anything other than home improvements, they'll consider your first mortgage refinance transaction a "cash-out" refinance.  This creates stricter lending requirements and can, in some cases, break your deal!
  10. Getting a second mortgage before you refinance your first mortgage.
        Many mortgage companies look at the combined loan amounts (i.e., the sum of the first and second loans) when you are refinancing only your first loan.  If you plan on refinancing your first loan, check with your mortgage company to see if having a second loan will cause your refinance to be turned down.

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Buying a home

Buying a home

  1. Looking for a home without being pre-approved. 
        Pre-approval and pre-qualification are two different things.  During the pre-qualification process, a loan officer asks you a few questions, then hands you a "pre-qual" letter.  The pre-approval process is much more thorough.
        During the pre-approval process, the mortgage company does virtually all the work associated with obtaining full-approval.  Since there is no property yet identified to purchase, however, an appraisal and title search aren't conducted.
        When you're pre-approved, you have much more negotiating clout with the seller.  The seller knows you can close the transaction because a lender has carefully reviewed your income, assets, credit and other relevant information.  In some cases (multiple offers, for example), being pre-approved can make the difference between buying and not buying a home.  Also, you can save thousands of dollars as a result of being in a better negotiating situation.
        Most good Realtors® will not show you homes until you are pre-approved.  They don't want to waste your, their, or the seller's time.
        Many mortgage companies will help you become pre-approved at little or no cost.  They'll usually need to check your credit and verify your income and assets.

  2. Making verbal (oral) agreements!
        If an agent tries to make you sign a written document that is contrary to their verbal commitments, don't do it!  For example, if the agent says the washer will come with the home, but the contract says it will not--the written contract will override the verbal contract.  In fact, written contracts almost always override verbal contracts.  When buying or selling real estate, abide by this maxim:  Get it in writing!
  3. Choosing a lender because they have the lowest rate.  Not getting a written good-faith estimate.
        While rate is important, you have to consider the overall cost of your loan. Pay close attention to the APR, loan fees, discount and origination points.  Some lenders include discount and origination points in their quoted points.  Other lenders may only quote discount points, when in fact there is an additional origination point (or fraction of a point).
        This difference in the way points are sometime quoted is important to you.  One lender will quote all points, while another lender may disclose an extra point, or fraction thereof, at a later time--an unwelcome surprise.
        Within 3 working days after receipt of your completed loan application, your mortgage company is required to provide you with a written good-faith estimate (GFE) of closing costs. You may want to consider requesting a GFE from a few lenders before submitting your application.  With a few GFEs to compare, you can get a feel for which lenders are more thorough, and you can educate yourself regarding the costs associated with your transaction.  The GFE with the highest costs may not indicate that a particular lender is more expensive than another--in fact, they may be more diligent in itemizing all fees.
        The cost of the mortgage, however, shouldn't be your only criteria.  There is no substitute for asking family and friends for referrals and for interviewing prospective mortgage companies.  You must also feel comfortable that the loan officer you are dealing with is committed to your best interests and will deliver what they promise.

  4. Choosing a lender because they are recommended by your Realtor®.
        Your Realtor is not a financial expert.  He or she may not know which loan is best for you.  Your Realtor® gets a commission only when your transaction closes.  As a result, the Realtor® may refer you to a lender who will close your loan, but who may not have the best rates or fees.  Also, many Realtors® refer you to one of their friends in the loan business--who also may not have the best rates or fees. Although most Realtors® are professional and concerned about your best interests, you should do your own homework.
        We recommend shopping for a loan with at least three mortgage companies before you make a decision.  There are countless stories of consumers who ended up paying higher rates, or got a loan that wasn't right for them, because they blindly followed their Realtor's® advice.

  5. Not getting a rate lock in writing.
        When a mortgage company tells you they have locked your rate, get a written statement detailing the interest rate, the length of the rate lock, and other particulars about the program.
  6. Using a dual agent (an agent who represents the buyer and seller in the same transaction).
        Buyers and sellers have opposing interests.  Sellers want to receive the highest price, buyers want to pay the lowest price.  In most situations, dual agents cannot be fair to both buyer and seller.  Since the seller usually pays the commission, the dual agent may negotiate harder for the seller than for the buyer.  If you are a buyer, it is usually better to have your own agent represent you.
        The only time you should consider using a dual agent, is when you can get a price break (usually resulting from the dual agent lowering their commission).  In that case, proceed cautiously and do your homework!

  7. Buying a home without professional inspections.  Taking the seller's word that repairs have been made.
        Unless you're buying a new home with warranties on most equipment, it is highly recommended that you get property, roof and termite inspections.  These reports will give you a better picture of what you're buying.  Inspection reports are great negotiating tools when it comes to asking the seller to make repairs.  If a professional home inspector states that certain repairs need to be made, the seller is more likely to agree to making them.
         If the seller agrees to make repairs, have your inspector verify the completed work prior to close of escrow.  Do not assume that everything will be done as promised.

  8. Not shopping for home insurance until you are ready to close. 
        Start shopping for insurance as soon as you have an accepted offer.  Many buyers wait until the last minute to get insurance and find they have no time left to shop around.
  9. Signing documents without reading them. 
        Do not sign documents in a hurry.  As soon as possible, review the documents you'll be signing at close of escrow--including a copy of all loan documents.  This way, you can review them and get your questions answered in a timely manner.  Do not expect to read all the documents during the closing. There is rarely enough time to do that.
  10. Making moving plans that don't work.
        You expect to move out of your current residence on Friday and into your new residence over the weekend.  Also on Friday, your lease terminates and the movers are scheduled to appear.
        Friday morning arrives: bags packed, boxes stacked, children under arm and the dog on a leash; you're sitting on your front door stoop awaiting the arrival of the movers.
        Your phone rings.  Your loan closing is delayed until the following Tuesday.  The new tenants turn into your driveway with a weighted-down U-Haul and the movers pull up across the street.
        You ask yourself, "Where's the nearest Motel 6 and storage facility?  How much will the movers charge for an extra trip?  Can we afford it?"
        How can you avoid such a disaster?  Cancel your lease and ask the movers to show up five to seven days after you anticipate closing your transaction.  Consider the extra expense an insurance policy.  You're buying peace of mind--and protecting yourself from expensive delays.

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Today's Mortgage Rates

Now's the time to refinance your mortgage. Washington DC refinance rates continue to be near historic lows. can help you find the most competitive Washington DC refinance rates. We list information on an up-to-the-minute basis from a pool of several lenders in your area.
Refinancing involves locking in a new interest rate on a first mortgage. Because of less risk taken upon by the lender, Washington DC refinance rates tend to be lower than what you can typically receive on second or third mortgages. However, when taking out a new loan, customers can expect to pay an additional fee to the lender in the form of a closing cost, usually anywhere from 2.5 to 3 percent of the amount borrowed.
There's no better place than to look for Washington DC refinance rates. We are considered a pioneer in the industry. In 1992, our founders originated the first mortgage over the Internet, and in 1994 they created the first online loan application. has been recognized by the media, including Forbes and Newsweek, for delivering a "stand out" among mortgage and loan sites. makes it extremely easy to find the lowest Washington DC refinance rates. Just figure out whether you'd like an adjustable or fixed rate loan, along with the number of points (fees paid to lender) you are interested in. Then click above on a suitable link to start saving on Washington DC refinance rates!

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Washington DC Refinance Loans

Smart Reasons to Refinance

From traditional to exclusive programs, explore some of the following Quicken Loans refinance options or apply online now.

Refinance to a Fixed-Rate Mortgage:

Refinance to Consolidate Debt:

  • FHA Loan – cash-out refinance up to 85 percent. Consolidate debt or refinance out of a rising mortgage payment.

Refinance to a Lower Payment:

  • FHA Streamline refinancing your FHA loan has never been easier. With FHA Streamline, you could refinance with no appraisal and the easiest and fastest qualifications ever for an FHA loan refinance. Find out if you qualify for an FHA Streamline Refinance today.
Try calculating your potential monthly payments by using our Quicken Loans mortgage calculators. Still not sure which refinance option works for you? Give us a call.

Talk to a D.C. Refinance Expert!

When you choose to refinance in D.C. with Quicken Loans, you’ll receive your personal mortgage expert to help determine which D.C. refinancing option is best for you. What are you waiting for? Give us a call at(800) 251-9080. Or take 30 seconds to get started online.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Refinancing Jumbo Mortgages Made Easier

Are you sick of all the advertisements proclaiming that interest rates are under 5%, when you can’t get anything lower than 6.5%? Jumbo lenders feel your pain, and there may be a way around it.
Your Big Fat Mortgage Refinance
What can you do to get a lower interest rate today on a jumbo mortgage?
First, look up conforming and FHA loan limits in your area. You might be pleasantly surprised.Depending on where you live, you may be able to get a jumbo conforming loan from Fannie or Freddie or an FHA mortgage with a better interest rate. Conforming mortgage limits in higher cost areas range from $721,050 in Honolulu, HI to loans from $426,650 in Providence, RI.
But you should also consider FHA. FHA limits may be higher than conforming limits in some locations. If you live in Alameda County, CA, you can get an FHA loan up to $729,750, but only $625,500 with Fannie Mae. And if you have a duplex, triplex, or fourplex, your limits go way up.
Supersize a Jumbo Hybrid ARM
Jumbo 30-year mortgage rates are so much higher than comparable hybrid ARMs, which may be fixed for three, five, seven, or ten years. On a $625,000 mortgage, you may find a 30-year fixed jumbo interest rate at 6.5%, but a 5/1 hybrid is at only 5.25%. The 5/1 payment is only $3,451, $499 less than the 30-year payment of $3,950. Over a five-year period, you’d save almost $30,000. Or you could put your savings toward principal reduction and lower your mortgage balance by an additional $33,000 over 5 years.
Mortgage Refinancing: Two Loans Are Better than One?
Refinancing one loan with two loans?! Why? You might get a better deal by combining a conforming first mortgage with a second mortgage. Do some calculations to see if this makes sense, for example: a homeowner has a $525,000 jumbo mortgage and lives in Baltimore, where the conforming loan limit is $494,500. With a $494,500 first mortgage at 5% and a second mortgage of $30,500 at 8%, the blended rate is 5.17%.
In addition, home equity lines are typically much cheaper to process than traditional refinances. So if you save a couple of points on $30,500, that’s another $261 for you.
Watch Out for Fees When You Refinance
If you last shopped for a mortgage a couple of years ago, there have been changes. The advertised conforming interest rates you see aren’t always what you get. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac add risk-based pricing adjustments, and unless you have a lovely credit score and a low loan-to-value ratio, a conforming mortgage rate might not be any better than refinancing a mortgage with a jumbo lender.
Mortgage Modification Might Help
Making Home Affordable modifications are available up to $729,750. If your jumbo mortgage is causing you hardship, you could qualify for a modification. Check your eligibility and then contact your lender.
Jumbo mortgage refinancing can be slightly more complicated, but the payoff is bigger too. A small improvement in your refinance rate equals greater dollar savings on larger loans.

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Debt Management: For Homeowners Only?

The best debt solution for your circumstances depends on a number of things like your income and expenses, your outstanding balances, your employment, and residential status.A debt management plan is an informal debt solution that may also involve budgeting and debt consolidation. The best debt management involves counseling and learning budgeting skills, so that you don’t end up in hot water again. Normally, your counselor contacts your creditors and negotiates lower payments and interest rates on as many accounts as possible. Then you make a single payment to the plan, and the service distributes it to your creditors.

Do You Need to Be a Homeowner?
You don’t have to be a homeowner to start a debt management plan. You just have to show that your current repayments are unaffordable, and that you are able to commit to regular reduced monthly payments.
The advantage of being a homeowner is that you may be able to add debt consolidation to your plan. By taking a home equity loan or doing a cash-out refinance, you could pay off the higher interest credit card debt and lower your payments considerably. Keep in mind that by stretching out your debt over 15 or 30 years you could end up paying more interest over the life of the loan. Still, debt consolidation by home equity loan or refinance can give you some breathing room, and you can always choose to make extra principal payments and lower your interest expense over the life of the mortgage.
Debt Management Education
An expert credit counselor is key–many so-called counselors are just salespeople who push everyone into the same plan. You want someone who provides some budgeting and credit education as well as debt management services. A reputable company should charge $100 or less, spend time evaluating your finanical situation with you, and discuss spending and lifestyle changes first. Streer clear of agencies that give you a hard sell and push a debt management program without offering alternatives. Keep in mind that non-profit status doesn’t mean that a service is any better or lower-priced. You need to evaluate it on its merits. The U.S. Dept. of Justice keeps a list of approved counselors on its Web site.
Debt Management: DIY
It’s possible to arrange a debt management plan yourself. You can negotiate interest rate freezes or reductions with your lenders directly, and if you have a good payment history with them and a documentable hardship, they are often willing to work things out. The process, however, may be time-consuming and stressful, and perhaps embarrassing. That’s why many prefer to have a debt management company deal with the negotiating, paperwork, and distribution of payments.

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

Home Loan Refinance or Mortgage Modification: Is HARP or HAMP Right for You?

A traditional refinance, a Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) refinance, a Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), or a non-government modification–these are all options for improving your mortgage interest rate. But which is right for you? The HAMP program offers the best deal if you qualify–think of it as a refinance with a rate as low as 2% at almost no cost to you.
HAMP is there to help homeowners with hardships avoid foreclosure. Qualifications include:
  • House is your primary residence
  • Mortgage is less than or equal to $729,750
  • Mortgage taken out before January 1, 2009
  • Total house payment exceeds 31% of household gross monthly income
  • Hardship — a substantial loss of income or increase in expenses that’s not your fault AND
  • Sufficient income to make a modified payment
If you qualify, contact your lender. Document your income, assets, debts, and hardship to get a trial modification and hopefully a permanent one. The average HAMP modification saves borrowers about $500 a month.
HARP Refinance
HARP is for borrowers who would be qualified to refinance except that they lack sufficient home equity. You can owe up to 125% of your home’s current value and still refinance under HARP. To qualify:
  • Your mortgage must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac
  • You can’t have been more than 30 days late on your mortgage payment in the last twelve months
  • Your first mortgage can’t exceed 125% of the value of your home
If you qualify, contact your loan servicer about a HARP refinance. You can get a HARP refinance from any Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac lender as long as your application is approved by Fannie’s Desktop Underwriter or Freddie’s Loan Prospector automated underwriting systems. If not, only your current lender can approve you under HARP. Another obstacle is mortgage insurance–with a new lender, you may not be able to obtain it.
Non-Government Help
If you don’t qualify for HAMP and don’t need HARP, a regular refinance may be your best bet–it allows you to shop for the best rate. An FHA refinance might be your best shot if you don’t have much equity.
Finally, if you’re having mortgage trouble but can’t get HAMP (say your house is a rental), call your lender. Homeowners get modifications when the lenders feel that they will lose less with modification than foreclosure.

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Your Adjustable Rate Mortgage: Blessing or Bomb?

As a loan officer I used to plot several graphs for my clients considering adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs). I’d routinely show them the best case, worst case, and most likely scenarios, and let them decide if they wanted the savings of the ARM or the safety of the fixed loan. If you’re trying to decide whether to keep your ARM today or refinance it, you can perform the same kind of analysis yourself.
First, Look at the Terms of Your ARM
Your paperwork should contain an ARM rider that should give you these pieces of information: Your start rate, your index, your margin, and any rate or adjustment caps and floors. For example, you might have a 3/1 ARM with a start rate of 4%, based on the 1-year LIBOR index, with a margin of 2%, annual adjustments capped at 2%, a lifetime cap of 10%, and a floor of 3%. Your 4% mortgage is set to adjust in a month; what will it do?
Check Your Index
You can find index data on most financial Web sites. The 1-year LIBOR index as of February 2010 is .85158. If your mortgage were adjusting today, you’d add your margin of 2% and get a rate of 2.852%!
Check Your Caps and Floors
But wait, there’s more. Your loan has a floor of 3%, which means that your rate can’t drop below 3% no matter what the LIBOR does. So you’d be at 3%, which isn’t bad. And that 3% is your best case scenario. So what’s your worst-case scenario? Check your caps–your rate can’t increase more than 2% per year. So, if you adjusted to a 3% rate next month, in a year the highest your rate could be go would be to 5%, then the following year to 7%, then 9%, then it would top out at 10% and stay there. So much for worst case.
What’s More Likely?
Best and worst case scenarios are extremes and unlikely to resemble the progress of your actual loan, especially over the long term. But you can predict a more likely and reasonable course for your mortgage. Here’s how: a search of “historical average 1 year LIBOR” online gets me the data I want. I dump it into a spreadsheet and I discover that the average of the 1-year LIBOR since its inception in 1990 is 4.623%. So we can add that to your margin of 2% for a total of 6.623%.
Yes, I could be a statistical stinker and make you calculate the expected value, but an average is a fairly good substitute and no one ever committed suicide trying to calculate an average. It’s a fairly safe bet, then, that your loan will adjust to 3% next month, 5% the following year, and then it may fluctuate around that 6.623% rate over the years–there’s no guaranty, but the longer you have your loan, the more likely it is that your rate will behave itself.
So, Should You Fix Your Interest Rate or Not?
That depends. Fixed rates today are about 5% if you have good credit–less than the average LIBOR ARM rate of 6.623%. You’d probably save money in the long run by refinancing. But what if you’re not in it for the long haul? If this house is a starter, or you have job transfers every five years or so, leaving your ARM alone is probably a safe bet. You know your rate won’t exceed 7% for at least three years.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Can I Refinance a Second Home?

Refinancing a second home with Fannie or Freddie Mac doesn’t cost any more than refinancing a comparable primary home. There are no risk-based pricing adjustments for second homes. While financing an investment property at 80% of its value can add 3.75 points to your fees, that’s not the case with a second home that meets eligibility requirements.
You Need Equity to Refinance a Second Home
You might have been able to purchase your second home with only 10% down, but you won’t be able to refinance it with only 10% home equity. That’s because for loans of more than 80% of your vacation home’s value, you’ll need mortgage insurance, and that can be hard to get.
You’ll Need Income to Refinance Your Second Home
Lenders prefer that your first mortgage (principal, interest, taxes, insurance, and homeowners’ dues) doesn’t exceed 31% of your gross monthly income. But your second home had better cost a lot less than that. Your second home payment is counted in with all of your other debts, like car loans and credit cards. Those payments, plus the loan on your primary residence, make up your total debt-to-income ratio. The lender on your primary residence isn’t so worried about those, because if your income decreases, you’ll likely use the first 31% of your income to keep up with your mortgage even if you have to miss payments to the other guys.
However, the lender on your second home IS one of those other guys. So while a first mortgage lender is often okay with you having a debt-to-income ratio of 45%, the second mortgage lender won’t want to see it over 40%, and that’s if you’re otherwise very well qualified.
Second Home vs Investor Property
Financing a second home is cheaper and easier than financing a rental. But what if you have been renting out your vacation home? Can you still refinance it as a second home? That depends. If your rental activity shows up on your tax returns and your lender requests them to verify your income, no way. Ditto if the appraiser the lender sends is met by a rental agent. Here are Fannie Mae’s official second home requirements:
  • Must be located a reasonable distance away from the borrower’s principal residence. You can’t vacation in your home town.
  • Must be occupied by the borrower for some portion of the year–ski cabin, beach house, whatever.
  • Must be a one-unit dwelling (no duplexes, etc.).
  • Must be suitable for year-round occupancy–tree houses and igloos don’t cut it.
  • Must not be rental property, a timeshare arrangement, or controlled by anyone but you.
So, if you qualify, you should be able to get the best mortgage rates available and save money–and that means more barbecues, more cold drinks, more marshmallows around the fire, more hikes, more sailing, more of whatever you love most at your vacation hide-away.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Choosing and Using a Debt Management Program

A debt management service acts as a liaison between you and your creditors. They negotiate a single for you, collect a single monthly payment, and distribute it to your creditors. The service charges a commission, usually a percentage of your monthly payment, and may also get rebates from your creditors.
How Debt Management Affects Your Credit
If your debt management service negotiates reduced interest rates or balance reductions on your behalf, it may show up on your credit record because you won’t be paying as agreed. However, the effect on your credit is much less damaging than late and missed payments.
If you made a timely monthly payment to your debt management service, but it doesn’t make your payments to your creditors on time, find out why. If the service neglects to pay your debts on time, your credit will suffer. Also, if the service charges you more than expected and applies your monthly payment to fees instead of paying your creditors, discontinue the service and contact your creditors directly.
Debt Consolidation Is an Alternative
It is not unusual for a debt management service to charge a commission of 10 percent on your monthly payment. The firm may also obtain a rebate from your lenders on the amount of each monthly payment they make on your behalf, which actually creates a conflict of interest since they are supposed to be working for you but are getting paid by your creditors.
There are unethical debt management services that encourage people to sign up for services which are not in their best interest, and non-profit status is no guarantee that a service is ethical. Look for services accredited by the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Instead of debt management plans, you may want to consider a debt consolidation loan. This gets you a single monthly payment, but there are no service charges and your debts are discharged immediately. Then all you have to do is make the monthly payment to the debt consolidation lender. Another alternative is to try to negotiate lower interest rates and payments with your creditors on your own.

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Lender Won’t Give Me a Good Faith Estimate!

The new GFE is expected to save borrowers an average of $700 per mortgage transaction, according to HUD. It makes shopping for a mortgage refinance easier and more transparent, putting the terms of your home loan upfront where you can easily see them, and including a worksheet to compare different home loans. But many lenders don’t like to give out GFEs to people until they are required to by law, and the law doesn’t apply to casual shoppers looking for mortgage rate quotes. So how can you get a GFE that commits the lender to the rate and fees it quotes you?
GFE = Increased Risk to Lender
Every time it issues a GFE, the lender assumes some extra risk. That’s because even fees charged by third party providers like title companies must be guaranteed within certain tolerances. And a mistake by an employee can cost a lender the entire profit on a mortgage transaction. For example, if someone prepares a GFE and mistakenly inputs title charges of $800 and the actual charges end up being $1,100, you have to pay only $880 (the estimated charges plus an allowed 10% tolerance), and your lender has to pay the remaining $220.
Easier for You = Harder for Some Lenders
While many lenders have no problem at all with issuing GFEs, and most welcome the transparency which makes it harder for the bad guys to compete unfairly with bait-and-switch tactics, some prefer not to disclose interest rates and fees upfront. The longer you are involved with a lender, the less likely you are to shop around for your loan. An article in Mortgage Professional Magazine counsels loan agents to avoid issuing a GFE until it’s required by law and also advises them not to guarantee an interest rate more than one day.
So, How Do You Get a GFE?
Pass up any lender that doesn’t feel it’s interest rates will stand up to comparison. If you provide the following information, it triggers the requirement for a GFE within three days:
  • Your full name
  • Your monthly income
  • Your Social Security number
  • The property address
  • The loan amount
  • The property value or sales price
Once the lender has all of this information, you get to have a GFE and all the guarantees that come with it. Other factors that can change the price of your mortgage are the property use and property type. Verify how long the mortgage rate is guaranteed–mortgage rates change with financial markets all day long so don’t expect a rate to be in force for long unless you lock it in.
A new GFE can be triggered by changes in income, property value / sales price, loan program, locking your rate, or your lock expiration. The final GFE is the only one that must essentially match your settlement statement. To be thorough, shop now, and then shop again when you prepare to lock your refinance interest rate.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Can Debt Management Improve Your Financial Health?

Debt management (not to be confused with debt settlement) involves restructuring your debts to lower your payments and interest rates. The idea is to help you pay off your consumer debt faster. Debt management typically involves some counselling to help you learn about budgeting, making your payments on time, and managing your bills. Debt management may also involve consolidating your debts with a home equity loan or a personal loan. Lower payments on your consumer debt can make it easier to afford a home loan and may help you save up a down payment.
Debt Management Has Side Effects
However, debt management may also have some consequences you are unprepared for. If your credit report shows that you are in a credit counseling or debt management plan, for example, FHA lenders treat you the same way they would if you had filed for a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. You may be able to get a mortgage, but you’ll have to have been paying on your plan for at least twelve months. The effect on your credit score usually depends on who your creditors are and their policy for reporting your payments.
Citibank, for example, merely adds a note to your payment history that you are enrolled in a credit counseling program. And that notation has no influence on your FICO score. But First USA reports its cardholders as delinquent until they have made three consecutive on-time payments through their debt management plans. Those three late payments can torpedo a score by a hundred points!
So Should You Try Debt Management?
Despite the claims of some TV advertisers, enrolling in credit counseling or debt management is not for those who just want more favorable terms from their creditors. If you can make your payments, but just want a lower interest rate, don’t put your credit score at risk; just call your creditors yourself and ask for a lower interest rate. If they don’t budge, you can always move your account.
Conversely, if no plan could get you out of debt in five years or less, bankruptcy may be a better option. Most credit counseling or debt management plans are designed to retire your debts in two to four years if you stick to them. If your debt will stretch out for years and years, it’s probably time to talk to a lawyer. A bankruptcy trustee could put you in a Chapter 13 program that could get you debt free in three to five years.
Debt management is a viable alternative if you can’t make anything more than your minimum payments or your debt payments exceed your income. But skip the “as-seen-on-TV” outfits. Look for an accredited consumer credit counseling service that provides genuine help.

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Refinance or Reamortize Your Mortgage?

When you’re just starting out, the best mortgage is often one that lets you make lower payments in the early years and bump them up them as your career takes off and your earnings increase. And there are many interest-only and ARM products available to meet this need. But what about as you near retirement? Is there a product for you, too?
Not really. The best mortgage for somewhat at the end of a career would let you pay more at the beginning, when you are in your peak earning years, and taper off to a lower payment when the pension kicks in. And there’s no such animal. Unless you create it yourself.
Prepaying Your Mortgage Now Gives You a Cushion Later
Once your retirement is fully funded, concentrate on prepaying your mortgage as much as you can afford. If you can refinance to a 15-year loan, by all means do so. If not, make whatever principal reduction payments you can. Say for example that you refinance today to a 30-year loan at 5.25%, and you plan on retiring in ten years. Your balance is $300,000. Using a mortgage amortization calculator, you can see that your payment is $1,657 per month and in ten years your balance would be $245,845. But you’re earning enough to pay $2,500 a month without causing yourself undue pain. So you add $843 to your payment. In ten years, your balance is only $113,176.
Now, here’s the good part. You don’t want to pay $2,500 when you’re retired. You don’t want to pay $1,657 either. By having your lender re-amortize your loan (many will do it for a $250 fee), you get a payment obligation of only $763 per month. This is because your prepaid balance is stretched out over the remaining 20-year term of your home loan, allowing you to pay more when you have it and less when you don’t.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Advantages of Refinancing Online?

With the advent of the Internet, people are selling everything online, and there is no exception with a mortgage refinancing. Online there are a plethora of companies out there vying for your business. If you look around and check a company out before sharing your personal information, online mortgage refinancing might be the right fit for you.

Many people are concerned about transmitting personal data over the web. Because of all of the identity theft going on, this is a valid concern. There are some practical ways that you can protect yourself. First of all, when you are considering a company, check them out on the Better Business Bureau's website. This will help you see how they treat their customers. Another thing that is an absolute must is to be sure that they have a secure website. The way you can know this is if you go to their site and the http turns into an https. The s means that it is secure. A secure website is one in which security measures have been implemented to prevent hackers from stealing your information. This may not appear until you are accessing a sensitive area of their site.

One of the advantages of refinancing your mortgage online is speed. There is little need to coordinate schedules or make an appointment. Everything except the closing is done via email or telephone. This is ideal for the busy working person who has little time to spend in a traditional mortgage office.

Another plus is the competitive rates available with online mortgage companies. Because there are so many places competing for your business, you could wind up with a very low interest rate. Many sites will give you quotes from several different firms and you can choose which one you like best. If one company is lower, but you would prefer to do business with another, ask if they will match the lower rate. Many online mortgage companies will do this in order to earn your business.

Getting a mortgage quote online is easy and quick. You can do it from the comfort of your own home, and avoid uncomfortable face to face meetings with pushy mortgage brokers. It is simple to find interest rates online and, many times, they are lower than the rates traditional mortgage companies offer. Just be careful of the quotes that are several percentage points lower than the majority of the ones you have received. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable company or your great deal may turn into great big headache.

Online mortgage refinancing is a wonderful choice for many people. More and more consumers are turning to the internet to take care of their finances. As a result, many great deals can be found that can better your situation tremendously. As long as you are cautious, refinancing your mortgage online can be a simple, painless and rewarding experience.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pros and cons of an adjustable rate mortgage

Many people have heard bad things about ARM, or adjustable rate mortgages, but there are just as many advantages to refinancing your home with an ARM as there are disadvantages. If you are considering refinancing your current home loan, and have a fixed rate home loan at the moment, an ARM loan is definitely worth looking at, as far as saving money on your repayments, and getting a better interest rate goes.

What Is An Adjustable Rate Mortgage?
An adjustable rate mortgage is a home loan that has significantly lower interest rates than any offered fixed rate mortgage at any given time. These adjustable rates on an ARM can change over the life of the loan in accordance with current markets and trends, unlike a fixed rate mortgage where the rates are never subject to change over the life of the loan.

What Are The Benefits?
By far the greatest benefit of refinancing, using the adjustable rate mortgage option is the savings gained by having a lower interest rate. It is hard to believe, but a small difference in interest rates, such as half a percent, over the course of a year can equate thousands of dollars.

What Are The Risks?
There are risks involved when you refinance with an adjustable rate mortgage loan. The riskiest type of ARM loan is the type that has no fixed term attached to it. Although the interest rates will be even lower than the average rates offered on a fixed term ARM loan, the rates on an ARM loan that isn't fixed are subject to change monthly, or yearly. An ARM loan that is fixed for a particular period, such as 5 years, is much safer, because you are getting a very low interest rate, locked in over a period of five years.

Who Will Benefit From An Adjustable Rate Mortgage?
Almost anyone can benefit from a fixed rate ARM mortgage. According to financial statistics many American families either sell their homes, or refinance after four years. If you are like many others, having a 5-year fixed ARM loan there is very little risk, with a much lower interest rate on offer.

The only risk is that after the 5 years is over on a fixed rate, if you can't refinance, or choose not to sell, and interest rates do get higher, you will have to pay more on your repayments. The ARM rate is especially helpful to lower income bracket families, or for those who want to pay their home off quicker than they are already.
By keeping your monthly repayments the same, and refinancing to an adjustable rate mortgage with a much lower interest rate, the money that you are saving because of the lowered interest rates can be coming directly off your principal each month. This can mean you are shaving years off your mortgage, without paying anything more than you were before you refinanced.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

The Mortgage Modification Option

This is a very difficult time for many homeowners. With high housing prices a few years ago, many people chose adjustable rate mortgages in order to be able to qualify for a house they wanted to purchase. Low interest rates made it possible for these higher-priced homes to be affordable for many people who may not have been able to afford them otherwise. At the time, house prices were rising quickly, so it was common that people who purchased a house found that the value of their home increased substantially over the course of just a few months. Mortgage companies also came out with additional programs that allowed even more people to qualify for loans that they may not otherwise be able to afford.

All of these factors combined to create what was called a housing bubble, which eventually popped. Interest rates rose. House prices dropped. Many people who had opted for two- and three-year ARMs saw their mortgage payments go up, often so much that they could no longer afford them. Foreclosures increased and are continuing to do so. Many mortgage companies have ceased operations or had to lay people off, leaving thousands of people jobless.

For people who have equity in their homes, and have been in their homes long enough, refinancing is an option that many people have been able to take advantage of.

If, however, you purchased your home at a time when prices were at their peak and now owe more on your home than it's currently worth, or if you haven't been in your home long enough, you may not qualify for refinancing. In this case, you may think you don't have any options. Some people in this position think that their only option is to sell their home for much less than it's worth or lose it through foreclosure.

There is an option that many people in these desperate financial circumstances don't realize exists. It's called a mortgage modification.

A mortgage modification is an option that you can request through your current mortgage company. You aren't refinancing to a whole new loan. You are asking for a modification of your existing loan. Not all mortgages can be modified, so you will need to discuss this with your mortgage company.

One way that some mortgage companies will modify your mortgage is to arrange what is called a forbearance, which means they will allow you to skip a payment or two. This is something that some mortgage companies will agree to if you're having temporary financial difficulties, but can get back on your feet quickly.

Another way that some mortgage companies will modify your mortgage is to extend the loan for another five years. This will help to lower your monthly payments.
You can also ask if they would be willing to adjust the interest rate if your adjustable rate mortgage is getting ready to reset.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Signs That Refinancing Your Home Is A Good Idea

People across the nation are trying to determine whether now is a good time to try to refinance their home or if they should wait for a more favorable financial climate. Refinancing your home at the right time could result in great financial gains and more financial freedom for you at a time where a global credit crunch is making it much harder for some individuals to receive alternative financing options to purchase the items that they desire. On the other hand, refinancing your home at the wrong time and in the wrong financial climate could result in the individual getting in over their heads on their mortgage and could ultimately end in financial devastation, as many homeowners across the nation are now discovering as their homes face foreclosure.

So how do you know whether now is the right time to refinance your home? There are a several signs that the homeowner can look for to determine whether or not the financial climate in their area will make it worth their while to devote the time and energy to refinancing their home. These signs are easy to spot if you know what you are looking for and keeping an eye out for the signs will ensure that you refinance your home in the best financial climate possible.

Sign #1 – You Qualify For A Much Lower Interest Rate
Individuals that purchased their home when their credit was less than stellar often received a higher interest rate than they wanted for their mortgage. If you have repaired your credit and raised your credit score by a significant amount, then you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate on your mortgage if you refinance. It is important to make your choice carefully and only refinance if the interest rate on your mortgage will be lowered by a significant amount, generally more than 2% which will not make much of a difference in your monthly payments.

Sign #2 – You Signed Up For An Adjustable Rate Mortgage
Many individuals today are deeply regretting the fact that they signed up for an adjustable rate mortgage that seemed so attractive on paper, but is wreaking financial havoc on their lives now that their rates have begun to rise. In the beginning, exotic adjustable rate mortgages were much desired because they allowed people to purchase a bigger home than they could typically afford and had a lower monthly payment, but when the interest rate rose on the mortgage, many people found that their payments had reached an unmanageable level. If you can qualify to refinance your home with a fixed rate mortgage without being subjected to numerous fees and penalties, you may be able to save a great deal of money over time on your mortgage payments.

Sign #3 – You Intend To Improve Your Home
Refinancing your home to obtain equity to improve your home will pay off in the long run as the improvements increase the value of your home. Using the equity in your home to pay for vacations or plastic surgery is generally a waste of money because it will take such a long period of time to rebuild the equity in your home, much longer than if you just put a little money aside to pay for the item in the future. If you are unable to afford to put money away to save for the purchase because your finances are stretched thin, then you probably should not be making expensive additional purchases anyway and taking equity out of your home will only make the situation worse.

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Tax Benefits of Refinancing

The tax benefits of home ownership can potentially save you hundreds of dollars every month. With a little planning you can make sure the dollars you save in refinancing your mortgage stay in your pocket. You might just discover previously unknown tax deductions along the way.

Itemized Deductions
In the early years of the life of a loan, payments are mostly on the interest owed rather than on the principle. If you itemize your deductions instead of using the standard deduction, you might stand to benefit . If you and your spouse file jointly, you can deduct interest payments to a maximum of $1 million. For example, let's say your original mortgage was $300,000. You might take out a new $350,000 refinanced mortgage and pay two points, or $7,000. (A point is an interest charge equal to 1% of the total loan amount that is paid upfront on the close the loan.) As seen by the Internal Revenue Service, the first $300,000 of your new loan is treated as home-acquisition debt. The interest paid on this debt qualifies as an itemized deduction. The $50,000 balance of the new loan is treated as home-equity debt and also qualifies as an itemized deduction. You can amortize the home-acquisition-debt points over the life of the loan. The points related to the home-equity debt can be amortized in the same proportion as the interest, but make sure the home-equity debt is $100,000 or less and the value of the home isn't exceeded by the acquisition debt plus the home-equity debt.

Home Improvement
If your refinanced mortgage is more than your original loan, you can use the difference to improve your home and deduct a dollar amount equal to the percentage of points paid in the first year. Anything within reason that improves your property value, such as improving the back deck or repairing the driveway, can count towards the deductible interest. Interest taken out for expenses not related to home improvement can also be taken as a deduction, but only within certain guidelines. But remember, the maximum deduction in 2007 for the life of the loan is $100,000.

Amortization: Pros and Cons
The points you'll pay when you first purchase your home are deductible in the tax-year in which the property was purchased. For example, if you paid one point on the origination fee of your new $300,000 home, your tax deduction that year will be $3,000. When you refinance your mortgage, the deduction for the amount paid will be amortized over the course of the loan, but the savings will still add up. Returning to the example, if you pay two points on the $350,000 loan when you refinance, the tax deduction of $7,000 would be amortized over 30 years. But, if you decide to refinance again, or you sell the house, you can write-off the unclaimed portion of the deduction. Additionally, i f you have refinanced before, you might have unamortized points that would be allowed in full the year you refinance.

You can learn more about the tax benefits of mortgage refinancing from the IRS Publication 936,Home Mortgage Interest Deduction , and by c ontacting your local tax advisor.

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