You Ask, We Answer: How Do I Know If It’s a Good Idea to Refinance My Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: How Do I Know If It's a Good Idea to Refinance My Mortgage?Are you interested in paying less per month on your mortgage? Or perhaps you would prefer if your mortgage was paid off a couple of months – or years – faster? If you are a homeowner with a mortgage, one option that is open to you is refinancing. In today’s post, we will explore the topic of mortgage refinancing and how to know if it is a good idea.

How Does Refinancing Work?

In short, refinancing is a process in which pay off your existing mortgage and borrow a new mortgage under a different set of terms. In most cases, homeowners will use the funds from the new mortgage to pay off the old one. Depending on the terms of your new mortgage, there may or may not be cash left over which you can use to invest, pay down debts, make renovations or for other purposes.

Refinancing To A Lower Interest Rate

Mortgage interest rates tend to fluctuate over time and because of this, refinancing to a mortgage with a lower rate is quite popular. If you initially borrowed your mortgage when interest rates were at 5%, you may be able to lock-in a new mortgage at a lower rate. Note that it can be tough to try to “time” the mortgage market, so check in with your mortgage professional to find out if the time is right.

Refinancing For Lower Monthly Payments

Another great use of refinancing is to reduce the monthly payment required on the mortgage. If you have ten years remaining on a 20-year mortgage, refinancing to extend the payments out to 15 years will lower the monthly payment.

Refinancing To Eliminate Other Debts

Finally, many homeowners will refinance their mortgage to use some of the home’s equity to pay off other debts. For example, a family might have $25,000 in debts that are being charged a higher interest rate than their mortgage. If they have built up enough equity, they can refinance and draw out $25,000 from the home’s value. This shifts the debt from the higher interest areas into the mortgage, where it can be paid off over time.

As you can see, there are many reasons why you might want to refinance your mortgage. To learn more about the refinancing process, or to discuss your options, contact us today. Our professional team of mortgage advisors is ready to help you choose the path that best suits your financial needs.

The Pros and Cons of a Large Down Payment When Buying a Home

The Pros and Cons of a Large Down Payment When Buying a HomeIf you are in the market for a new home, one of the considerations you will need to make is how much to invest in your down payment. Let’s take a quick look at some of the pros and cons of making a large down payment when buying your next home.

A Large Down Payment Has Its Benefits

If you have the funds available, you may find a bit of an advantage in a large down payment. The following are a few potential benefits that you may realize.

You Can Afford More ‘House’ – if you are aiming for a large, luxurious home a significant down payment can help you get there. As long as your credit is in line with your needs, a large down payment leaves more room in your mortgage.

You May Pay Less Interest – conversely, if you don’t need to carry a big mortgage you can choose a shorter amortization period for your mortgage. A shorter loan period means that you are likely to pay less in interest.

You Might Not Need PMI – if you can afford to invest more than 20 percent of the home’s value in your down payment, you may not be required to purchase private mortgage insurance.

A Few Of The Downsides

Of course, there are some potential downsides to using a large portion of your available cash as a down payment:

Do You Have The Money? – a large down payment doesn’t make a lot of sense if your finances can’t tolerate that hit right now. If you have your down payment and little else, you might want to reconsider.

You Will Be Less Liquid In The Short Term – keep in mind that once you sign the closing paperwork, your down payment cash is gone. This will leave you a bit less liquid in the short term since you would need to sell your home to get that cash back out.

You Can’t Invest That Money Elsewhere – you won’t be able to use these funds for other investment purposes. Of course, real estate is an investment itself so this may be less of a concern.

Still Have Questions? Get In Touch

Choosing the right amount for a down payment is a decision best made with professional help. Contact your trusted mortgage professionals and we will be happy to share our experience and insight.

Make 2018 the Year You Escape the ‘Rental Trap’ by Buying Your Own Home

Make 2018 the Year You Escape the 'Rental Trap' by Buying Your Own HomeAre you growing tired of paying rent each month and not building your net worth? Being stuck in the ‘rental trap’ isn’t much fun, but if you are determined, you can break out. Let’s explore some of the steps that you can take to make 2018 the year that you become a homeowner.

Rent Money Is Lost Money

First – why homeownership? As you may already understand, money spent on rent is ‘lost’ money. Each month you pay your rent, but you do not build any equity, own any property or get any other benefits in return. When you own a house, the money you spend each month is being invested in the home. You are building value in the home over time which you can then realize if and when you decide to sell.

Choose Your Home And Location Wisely

Do you know where in the local area you want to live? And what kind of home you want to live in? If you are a single young professional, a condo or apartment might be the perfect starter home. However, if you are married and have a family, there will be other factors such as schools and amenities to take into consideration. Invest some time in going through local real estate listings and making a short list of communities that seem like a good fit.

Polish Up That Credit Score

Ask yourself: how is your credit score looking? Is it perfectly spotless? Or do you have some past issues that need cleaning up? It is worth checking in with one of the major credit reporting agencies to find out your credit score and if there are any blemishes that need to be taken care of. You can request a free credit report once per year, so take advantage today.

Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

Finally, if buying a home in 2018 is going to be realistic, you will need to ensure that you have your down payment saved up. Although it is possible to buy a house or condo with no down payment, there are pros and cons to this approach. If you can save 10 or 20 percent of the cost of the home, it will go a long way in helping to get your mortgage approved and the sale closed.

If you are ready to break out of the rental trap and start down the path to homeownership in 2018, contact us today. Our professional mortgage team is happy to share how we can assist you in becoming a homeowner.

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You’re Not Alone

Graduating With Student Loan Debt and Worried About Your Mortgage Prospects? You're Not AloneDid you recently graduate from college or university? If so, you may still be dealing with a financial hangover in the form of student loan debt. The vast majority of today’s students have to borrow to invest in their education, which can affect financial plans once school is finished. In today’s post, we will explore buying a home with a mortgage when still dealing with outstanding student loan debt.

Your Situation Is Common, But Unique To You

First, try to keep in mind that you are not alone. Many former students are moving on with life, working hard to build a career and a life while juggling past student loans. However, your situation is unique, and thus, you need to plan it that way. For example, are you single or married? Are you in a stable career or are you potentially shifting jobs? Do you have children or are you planning to in the near future? Your financial needs are unique and need to be prepared and budgeted accordingly.

Understand Your DTI Ratio

Have you heard of the debt-to-income or ‘DTI’ ratio? When you take out a mortgage to buy a home, this ratio is one factor in determining how much you can borrow. In essence, it is a ratio of your monthly debt payments versus your monthly income. As you are paying off student loan debt, that will increase your DTI ratio. Adding a mortgage, car or other monthly payments on here will as well. You will want to ensure that you maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio or it can be challenging to stay solvent.

Balancing Your Mortgage With Your Other Loans

You may have heard this saying: “life happens.” It is rare that anyone can spend years with everything going according to plan. If you run into a temporary health or job-related issue, you may need to do some juggling to keep your mortgage and other payments fully managed. For this reason, it is worth trying to save at least a few months of your monthly expenses in a ‘rainy day’ fund. Just in case of an emergency.

Challenging, But Not Impossible

Balancing a monthly mortgage payment with student loan repayment can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. If you would like to learn more about mortgage products that are perfect for recent graduates, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share how we have helped others with student loans realize their dream of homeownership.

Four Pieces of Mortgage ‘Advice’ That You Should Take With the Proverbial Grain of Salt

Four Pieces of Mortgage 'Advice' That You Should Take With the Proverbial Grain of SaltAre you in the market for a new home? If you have been talking to friends and family or researching online, you have likely come across quite a bit of mortgage-related advice. As with anything, there is low-quality advice out there which is essential to avoid. In today’s blog post we will share four pieces of mortgage-related advice that you should take with the proverbial ‘grain of salt.’

#1: Only Get A Mortgage From Your Bank

Have you heard that you should only get a mortgage from the major bank that you use regularly? Many people believe that working with a large bank that you have a history with provides advantages, but this is not always the case. The right advice here is to seek out a mortgage lender offering products that fit your current and future financial needs.

#2: Always Take The Lowest Interest Rate

The next piece of advice you might hear is to always take the mortgage product with the lowest interest rate. As you may know, rates vary based on a wide range of factors. Taking the lowest rate might mean that you miss out on some favorable mortgage terms. It is best to trust your mortgage professional to provide you with some options here.

Don’t forget that, over time, you will be able to refinance your mortgage if rates move in a way that is advantageous for you. So you can feel safe in choosing the right mortgage now and adjust later.

#3: Always Borrow As Much As You Can

Another questionable piece of mortgage advice is to always borrow as much as you possibly can. Keep in mind that a mortgage is a loan and that you are required to pay it back. The amount you borrow should be in line with your needs and financial goals.

#4: Don’t Bother With A Pre-Approval

Finally, you may have heard it suggested that you can avoid the mortgage pre-approval process. While it is possible, this is not a good idea. Many home sellers will require proof of your pre-approval before they will commit to selling their home. If there are other buyers trying to bid on that home, they are more likely to win the bid if they can prove their finances are in order. When you are ready to buy, a pre-approval can help.

These are just a few of the many bad pieces of mortgage advice that you might hear in conversation or read online. When you are ready to discuss your mortgage options with the experts, give our professional team a call. We would be happy to share our insight and experience to help you choose the best mortgage.

3 Ways That a Reverse Mortgage Can Transform Your Retirement

3 Ways That a Reverse Mortgage Can Transform Your RetirementAre you a retired individual looking for ways to increase your financial security? If so, you may have heard of a home equity conversion mortgage, more commonly known as a reverse mortgage. Used correctly, this is one of the most effective financial products for retirees who own their home.

Let’s explore three ways that a reverse mortgage can help to transform a dull retirement into one filled with excitement.

It’s All About Flexibility

The primary benefit that one receives with a reverse mortgage is financial flexibility. It is an excellent way to tap into the equity that has built up in your home over time without having to sell the house and move out. Moreover, unlike a traditional home loan, the payment terms are far more flexible. In many cases, payments are not required until you are ready to leave the home permanently.

An Extra Source Of Income

Is your lifestyle starting to suffer because you do not have a regular salary coming in for you and your partner? Regardless of how much you have saved in 401-k and other retirement accounts, losing that regular monthly income can be depressing.

The good news: a reverse mortgage can help to change that. The funds you receive can be used however you want. You can invest in renovations for your home, take a nice vacation, invest in the stock market or simply leave it in your bank account. It is a helpful ‘bridge’ income source that will ensure that you have no trouble taking care of life’s many expenses.

A Contingency Fund, Just ‘In Case’

Finally, a reverse mortgage can be an excellent contingency fund. If you take this out as a line of credit, the money will be available if and when they are needed. Many retired individuals lack a financial ‘safety net’ and end up suffering due to unexpected health or other costs. With a reverse mortgage, you can sleep soundly knowing that emergency cash is there if needed.

As you can see, taking advantage of a reverse mortgage can be the catalyst that helps take your retirement to the next level. To learn more about these unique financial products, contact our professional mortgage team today. We are happy to share how a reverse mortgage can benefit you and your family.

Single and Considering a New Home? Here’s What You’ll Need to Know About Your Mortgage

Single and Considering a New Home? Here's What You'll Need to Know About Your MortgageHave you decided that it is time to move on from renting? If you are single and living alone, you may be wondering whether or not homeownership is right for you. Let’s have a look at a few key factors that you will need to be aware of when taking out a mortgage as a single person.

It’s A Commitment – But Not For A Lifetime

Some single people shy away from the idea of buying a home as it is a significant financial commitment. When you are single, especially if you are young and early in your career, flexibility can be valuable. You might decide to move to a new city to take a new job, or you may find a partner and decide to start a family.

Keep in mind that homeownership – and your mortgage – aren’t permanent. If you decide to buy a house, condo or apartment, you can always sell it later if you need to move or upgrade to a larger home.

You’ll Need To Be Disciplined

As you will only have one income stream coming in to support you in managing your monthly finances, you will need to be disciplined. Living paycheck to paycheck is not really an option as you will end up in trouble if an emergency occurs. Some financial experts advise having at least 6 to 12 months of monthly expenses saved up, in case of a job loss or an unexpected health issue that takes you out of work.

Don’t forget that there are also mortgage insurance products that can help to cover some of your costs in the event of an emergency. These may be an option to consider as a backup plan.

Starting Small Versus Going Big

Do you need a lot of space? If not, investing in a small ‘starter’ home is an excellent option. You can buy just enough home to suit your needs without buying anything extravagant. A helpful advantage that you gain purchasing a less-expensive home is that it comes with a smaller mortgage that can be paid off faster.

Questions? Get Professional Advice

If you have questions about borrowing and maintaining a mortgage as a single person, you’re not alone. Give our professional mortgage team a call. We will be happy to share our guidance and expertise in helping you choose the mortgage product that suits your financial goals.

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First Home

Taking Out a Mortgage for the First Time? Learn Why a Condo Might Be a Great First HomeAre you starting to tire of paying your monthly rent to someone and never building any equity? Renting forever can be a significant pain, especially as you’re contributing to someone else’s financial well-being. The good news is that there are affordable real estate options out there for those investing in their first home. Below we will share a few excellent reasons why an apartment or condo might be the best choice for a first-time home buyer.

A Manageable Monthly Payment

In most markets across the country, condos and apartments are available at a significantly lower cost than a full-sized house. Buying a less-expensive home means that your monthly mortgage payments will, in turn, be lower. If you are single or a young professional trying to start a family, that extra money can be a massive boost to your monthly budget.

Note that while your monthly mortgage payment may be lower, you are still responsible for other maintenance and upkeep fees. The most common is known as a homeowners’ association fee, to which all condo owners in the same development contribute. These funds are used to upkeep the building or property as well as things like landscaping, a pool or gym, and other amenities.

A Smaller Down Payment

In the same vein, buying a less-expensive home also means that you can put a smaller down payment on it when you close the sale. In many cases you are required to place a certain percentage – typically 20 percent – down to avoid having to purchase private mortgage insurance. Having to commit less in your down payment leaves more money in the bank for other purposes.

An Excellent Future Investment Property

Don’t forget that when you are ready to upgrade and move into a larger house, you can keep a condo as a rental or investment property. Once your mortgage is paid off, you are only responsible for the monthly maintenance fees and taxes. So if you can rent the condo out to a tenant, you will have an excellent source of cash flow that can help to pay for your new home or fund other activities.

The above are just a few of the many reasons why a condo can be a great starter home for first-time buyers. To learn more about your mortgage options, contact us today. Our team is happy to help.

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit Score

Considering a New Home Next Year? Start Now and Get a Jump on Improving Your Credit ScoreIn the market for a new home in 2018? With the new year just a few short weeks away, that leaves you with precious little time to get your finances in order. Let’s explore a few tips that will help you get a jump on improving your credit score before the end of the year.

Grab A Fresh Copy

The first step is to order a fresh copy of your credit report from one of the major agencies. The Fair Credit Reporting Act allows you to access a free copy of your credit report once every 12 months. So, if you have not ordered a copy recently, it is time to do so. You can access this free service through AnnualCreditReport.com, which is a website recommended by the Federal Trade Commission.

Clean Up Anything Outstanding

Now that you have a copy of your credit report, it’s time to go through it, line-by-line. You should recognize every current and outstanding account in the report. Any balances owing should be in order and reflect how much you owe. It’s critical that you flag any mistakes or old debts that you have already paid in full. If you come across anything that shouldn’t be on your credit report, call the reporting agency to let them know. If necessary, they will assist you with challenging the issue.

Pay Down Those High-Interest Debts

The final tip in today’s guide is to prioritize your outstanding debts so that you can pay them off more efficiently. The essential debt payments are your mandatory minimums, which you need to pay to avoid being sent to a collection agency. From there, try to pay off your debts with the highest interest rates first. Getting these paid off faster means that over time, you’re spending less on interest payments. Moreover, you can use that extra cash to pay your debts down further.

The above are just a few of the action steps that you can take today to start improving your credit score. When you’re ready to discuss a mortgage for your new home, give our team a call. We will be happy to advise you on the mortgage offer that suits your needs, budget, and credit.

Mortgage 101: How Interest-Only Mortgages Work and Why They’re A Good Solution for Some Buyers

Mortgage 101: How Interest-Only Mortgages Work and Why They're A Good Solution for Some BuyersWhether you’re a first-time homebuyer or an experienced real estate investor, if you are planning to borrow funds to buy a home you will want to choose the right mortgage product. In today’s blog post we’ll explore how interest-only mortgages work and why they’re the perfect choice for some homebuyers.

How Interest-Only Mortgages Differ From Conventional Ones

As the name suggests, interest-only mortgages are loans where you are only required to pay off the interest portion of the loan each month for some specific term. The length of these loans can be up to ten years, although five or seven is the most common. Once this period is over, you will have some options. Some choose to refinance their mortgage into a new term; others will make a lump-sum payment to pay off the balance. The most important item of note is that during the interest-only period, no principal is paid off unless you pay a bit extra.

The Pros And Cons Of Interest-Only Mortgages

Interest-only mortgages are a popular choice because of their many upsides. Your monthly payments are almost certainly going to be far lower during the interest-only period. This is because you’re not responsible for paying down the principal of the loan. A lower monthly payment frees up money that you can use for other purposes, such as investing. Also, your entire monthly payment during the interest-only period should be tax deductible, which may contribute to a refund each year.

Note that there are some potential downsides to interest-only mortgages as well. For example, if your mortgage interest rate is adjustable, you can end up paying more in interest than if you had locked in. You also need to stay disciplined financially. Once the interest-only period ends, your monthly payment may increase significantly to cover both interest and principal.

Who Should Consider An Interest-Only Mortgage?

Interest-only mortgages are a good fit for those individuals or families where you are confident that your income is going to grow significantly in five or ten years. Alternatively, if your income is somewhat sporadic and you want the option of paying lower payments in some months and more substantial payments in others. The key point is that these mortgages offer flexibility that other mortgage products do not.

As you can see, interest-only mortgages are an excellent choice in certain circumstances. To learn more about how an interest-only mortgage might be right for you, contact our professional mortgage team today. We are happy to share our experience to find mortgage financing that perfectly suits your needs.