The Benefits of Using a Veterans (VA) Loan To Purchase Your Home

The Benefits of Using a Veterans (VA) Loan To Purchase Your HomeU.S. military veterans have opportunities to enjoy some richly-deserved benefits in other aspects of their lives, including some special options for financing their homes. VA loans may give active military personnel, retired veterans, and sometimes surviving family members of veterans the ability to purchase homes that might not prove available to them through more conventional mortgage loans.

But the mere fact that you can do a thing doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. In some circumstances, military home seekers may find other types of loan options more amenable to their specific needs.

If you’ve decided to pursue a mortgage loan during or following your military career, you may want to examine these considerations before leaping into a VA loan application.

Loan Qualifications and Limits

A VA loan can open the door to home ownership for cash-strapped or credit-challenged military personnel who might otherwise struggle to get a conventional mortgage loan. This type of loan offers tremendous flexibility in qualifying factors such as credit scores and debt-to-income ratios; in fact, VA loans may come with no maximum debt ratio at all.

Potential For Zero Down Payment

Additionally, VA loans do not require the down payment typically needed for a more conventional or FHA loan. (The only other loan with no down payment requirement, the USDA loan, applies to rural areas and comes with some prohibitive income restrictions.)

The elimination of a mandatory down payment, coupled with the relaxed financial qualifications, can make a VA loan the most sensible choice for individuals who suffer from limited resources, “upside-down” credit and short credit histories.

Additional Qualifications To Consider

That said, VA loans usually impose some qualifications of their own — qualifications which may not appeal to some buyers. For one thing, a VA loan can only go toward the primary place of residence, not a summer cottage or second home. Military personnel who already own a home may therefore find this restriction a deal-breaker for their specific needs.

VA Loan Limits

VA loan amounts may also impose varying guaranty limits depending on where you live. The guaranty limit refers to your VA entitlement, the portion of your loan that escapes the down payment requirement.

In most counties, that limit currently levels off at 435,100, although in several major metropolitan markets it can range as high as 679,650. If you want to buy a more expensive home, you may end up making a down payment — potentially making your VA loan competitive against other loan options.

As always, your best move is to call your trusted mortgage professional to discuss the VA home loan option and find out if it’s the best option for you.

Video: What Is “Prime”?

What Is “Prime”?

The Prime Lending Rate – sometimes just called “Prime”  – is the interest rate that banks charge each other for overnight loans. Some consumer rates – like ARMs – are set in relation to Prime.

In the US, Prime is affected by the Federal Reserve lending rate to banks; historically, Prime is about 3 percent above the Fed rate.

The video shows  an example.

  • The Federal Reserve loans to Bank A at 1%
  • Bank A loans to Bank B at 4%
  • Both banks – A & B – will recalculate variable-rate loans like ARMs on that 4% Prime figure.

ARM rates are frequently defined as “% above Prime” – that gap is usually called the “margin” or “spread.” Just remember those 3 layers in Prime: Federal Reserve Bank A Bank B And finally, YOUR rate.

What Is Prime

Who Is Exempt From The VA Funding Fee?

Who is NOT required to pay the VA funding fee?

This video could save some veterans thousands. VA loan applicants pay a funding fee – as of 2014, 2.15% of the total loan amount – which can be thousands of dollars. Some veterans and spouses are eligible for exemption.

Broadly speaking, veterans who received disability benefits – current or former and who are NOT currently in debt to the government may be exempt from the funding fee. Some spouses may qualify as well.

The key thing to understand is, exemption from the funding fee is NOT automatic! Borrowers must certify their veteran status, government debt, benefits and active service state on VA Form 26-8937.

It’s important to tell your mortgage company that they need to submit this form EARLY in your home-buying process – if they just look up your records without submitting the form the VA will not begin the review and approval process and your home purchase could be delayed by weeks. Who Is Exempt From The VA Funding Fee

Video: What Steps Need To Be Taken To Secure A Loan

What Steps Need To Be Taken To Secure A Loan

You’ll see some pictures in this video to help you remember later, but the first step in securing a loan is to complete a loan application.

To do so, you’ll need the following information.

  • Pay stubs for the past 2-3 months.
  • W-2 forms for the past 2 years.
  • Information on long-term debts.
  • Recent bank statements tax returns for the past 2 years.
  • Proof of any other income.
  • Address and description of the property you wish to buy.
  • A sales contract on the home you want to buy.

During the application process, the lender will order a report on your credit history and a professional appraisal of the property you want to purchase. The application process typically takes between 1-6 weeks.

What Steps Need To Be Taken To Secure A Loan

Video: Are There Special Mortgages For First-Time Homebuyers?

Yes. Like the video shows, lenders now offer several affordable mortgage options which can help first-time homebuyers overcome obstacles that made purchasing a home difficult in the past.

Lenders may now be able to help borrowers who don’t have a lot of money saved for the down payment and closing costs, have no or a poor credit history, have quite a bit of long-term debt, or who have experienced income irregularities.

Video-FirstTimeMortgages

How Are Pre-Qualifying And Pre-Approval Different?

How Are Pre-Qualifying And Pre-Approval Different? Watch this video and it’ll make sense.

Pre-qualification is an informal way to see how much you maybe able to borrow. You can be ‘pre-qualified’ over the phone with no paperwork by telling a lender your income, your long-term debts and how large a down payment you can afford. Without any obligation, this helps you arrive at a ballpark figure of the amount you may have available to spend on a house.

Pre-approval is a lender’s actual commitment to lend to you. It involves assembling financial records and going through a preliminary approval process. Pre-approval gives you a definite idea of what you can afford and shows sellers that you are serious about buying.

Assessing Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ and Why This Number Matters When Getting a Mortgage

Assessing Your Debt-to-Income Ratio and Why This Number Matters When Getting a MortgageIf you are looking to buy a home, you may want to consider shopping for a loan first. Having your financing squared away ahead of time can make it easier to be taken seriously by buyers and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage soon, keep in mind that the Debt-to-Income ratio of the borrower plays a huge role in the approval of your mortgage application.

What is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is the percentage of monthly debt payments compared to the amount of gross income that a person earns each month. Your gross monthly income is typically the amount of money you earn before taxes and other deductions are taken out. If a person’s monthly gross income is $2,000 a month and they have a monthly debt payments of $1000 each month, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. The lower the DTI the better. 43 percent is in most cases the highest DTI that potential borrowers can have and still get approved for a mortgage.

What Debt Do Lenders Look At?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, utilities, cable, phone and health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI. What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Wage income is considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage, however, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years. In addition, those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security should make sure and include those figures in their monthly income as well when applying for a loan.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders prefer to only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent or lower. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower’s DTI ratio can be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by either increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.

The Summer Buying Season Is Here: 3 Tips to Help You Secure a Favorable Mortgage Rate

The Summer Buying Season Is Here 3 Tips to Help You Secure a Favorable Mortgage RateThe best way to ensure you get a good rate on your mortgage is to become an informed buyer. The more you know about mortgages, the more you’ll be able to save, and that doesn’t just mean knowing where to find the best interest rate.

While interest rates play an important role in determining the price of your mortgage, there’s always more to a mortgage than just the interest rate. Here are three things you need to know about mortgages to make sure you secure a favorable rate.

Understand The Fees Involved – And How To Avoid Them

Aside from the interest rate, the biggest factor affecting the price of a mortgage is often the fees involved. These fees won’t always be easy to find, so you might have to do some homework if you want to compare fees charged by different lenders.

Sometimes, it’s possible to have these fees waived or removed. For example, if you end up moving your mortgage from one lender to another, the original lender may have some sort of mortgage pre-payment penalty. You’ll want to make sure the terms of your existing mortgage loan don’t include fees like this before you refinance.

Understand How The “Lock-In” Process Can Affect Your Interest Rate 

When you get a quote for a mortgage, each lender will offer a “lock-in period” in which the lender guarantees the interest rate for your mortgage stays the same. Because interest rates fluctuate so often, this “lock-in period” ensures that you end up paying the same rate you were initially offered should you choose to take out a mortgage with that lender.

If you need a longer lock-in period of two months or more, many lenders will charge a higher interest rate for that provision. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be sure about the closing date of your sale so you can avoid missing out on the lock-in period or being forced to ask for a rate-lock extension.

Understand How Your Credit Score Affects Your Mortgage Rate

Generally, a better credit score means a better mortgage rate, but it’s important that you don’t damage your score while you’re shopping around for mortgages.

Every lender will want to know your credit score and see your credit history. The good news is that every inquiry of the same tyep (mortgage in this case) will only count as a single inquiry on your score.  However, if you have other types of credit pulled, like furniture or auto financing, then too many inquiries into your credit history can lower your credit score.  Your best bet is to hold off on any additional financing until your home purchase loan is completed.

Of course, it’s always important to shop around and compare rates when you’re looking for the best mortgage deal. And now that you know these extra pieces of information about how mortgages work, you should have an easier time differentiating between a good mortgage rate and a bad mortgage rate. A mortgage rate that looks good at first could end up being a bad mortgage rate in the end because of hidden fees and other cost factors.

To learn more about finding the best mortgage rates, give your trusted mortgage professional a call.

S P Case-Shiller Home Price Index: May Home Prices Rise

S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index: May Home Prices RiseMay home prices rose in all 20 cities tracked by the S&P Case-Shiller 20 City Home Price Index. This was the second consecutive month in which all cities posted gains.

On average, national home prices rose by 1.10 percent in May as compared to April’s reading. Year-over-year, home prices rose, but at a slower rate of 9.39 percent in May as compared to 10.80 percent year-over-year for April.

Nevada, Florida and California Cities Post Highest Gains 

Cities posting the highest year-over-year price gains in May included Las Vegas, Nevada at 16.90 percent, San Francisco, California at 15.40 percent, Miami, Florida at 13.20 percent. San Diego and Los Angeles, California reported home price growth rates at 12.40 and 12.29 percent respectively.

According to the 20-City Index, home prices are 18 percent below their peak reached in mid-2006, but are 27 percent higher as compared to March 2012 lows.

Pending Home Sales Decline in June

More evidence of sluggish home sales was reported for June. The National Association of REALTORS® reported that pending home sales dropped by 1.10 percent in June. This was a surprise as compared to May’s month-to-month gain of 6.00 percent for pending sales.

Several factors were cited as contributing to slower home sales; higher home prices, stagnant wage growth, higher mortgage rates and stringent loan requirements were seen as obstacles for home buyers. Pending home sales are an indicator of future closings and mortgage activity. Approximately 80 percent of purchase contracts signed sales completed within 60 days.

FHFA House Price Index: Home Price Growth Slips in May

FHFA, the agency that oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reported that home prices grew by 0.40 percent in May to a seasonally-adjusted year-over-year rate of 5.50 percent as compared to April’s year-over-year reading of 5.90 percent. FHFA’s House Price Index is based on sales of homes connected with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgages. 

On a positive note, the reading for the Consumer Confidence Index jumped from 85.20 in June to 90.90 in July. Expanding consumer confidence suggests that more families may decide to transition from renting to owning their homes, and that homeowners may feel confident enough to move up to larger homes.

 

What To Do When Your Real Estate Loan Is Declined

What To Do When Your Real Estate Loan Is Declined There are many reasons why a mortgage loan could be declined. It doesn’t have to be the end of your real estate dreams. Here are a few things to consider if you’ve been turned down for a mortgage.

Loan-To-Value Ratio

The loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is the percentage of the appraised value of the property that you are trying to finance. For example, if you are trying to finance a home that costs $100,000, and want to borrow $75,000, your LTV is seventy-five percent.

Lenders don’t like a high LTV. The higher the ratio, the harder it is to qualify for a mortgage. To reduce the percentage, you can save up a bigger down payment. Some lenders may approve the loan if you buy mortgage insurance, which protects the lender in the case of default, but makes your mortgage payment higher.

Credit To Debt Ratio

Lenders will be less likely to approve your mortgage loan if you have a high credit-to-debt ratio. The ratio is figured by dividing the amount of credit available to you, on a credit card or auto loan, and dividing it by how much you are currently using.

High debt loads will scare away most lenders. Try to keep your debt to under fifty percent of what is available to you. Lenders will appreciate it, and you will be more likely to be approved for a mortgage.

No Credit Or Bad Credit

Few things can derail your mortgage loan approval like credit issues. Having no credit record can be as bad for your approval chances as bad credit. With no record of timely loan payments from anywhere, a lender is unable to determine your likelihood to repay the mortgage. Some lenders will consider other records of payment, like utility bills and rent reports from your landlord.

If you have frequent late charges or collections, you’ll need to work on getting those paid on time, every time. There aren’t many lenders who will approve someone with bad credit, especially in today’s market.

Talk to your loan officer to determine which problem applies to you, and learn the steps to fix it. Then, you can finance the home or condo of your dreams.

If you’re ready to buy a home or condo, I can help. Together, we’ll determine how much you can afford, and I’ll negotiate to get the best price and terms for you. Get in touch with me so I can help you.