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Obstacles to Homeownership: Perceived or Real?

by Melissa Thompson

Obstacles to Homeownership: Perceived or Real? | Keeping Current Matters

Yesterday, we discussed the belief Americans have in homeownership and their desire to partake in this piece of the American Dream. We also discussed some of the obstacles preventing them from attaining that goal. However, studies have shown that that many of the obstacles mentioned are perceived, not real.

A recent study by Fannie MaeWhat Do Consumers Know About The Mortgage Qualification Criteria?, revealed that many consumers are either unsure or misinformed regarding the minimum requirements necessary to obtain a mortgage. Let’s break down three such challenges.

Down Payment

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that the lack of an adequate down payment is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Mae report:

  • 40% of all renters don’t know what down payment is required
  • 15% think you need at least 20% down
  • An additional 4% think you need at least 10% down

The Reality

There are programs offered by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and FHA that require as little as 3-3.5% down. VA and USDA loans offer 0% down programs. According to the National Association of Realtors, the typical down payment for a first time buyer is 6%.

Credit Score

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that the lack of an adequate credit score is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Mae report:

  • 54% of all renters don’t know what credit score is required
  • 5% think you need at least a 740 credit score

The Reality

Many mortgages are granted to purchasers with a credit score of less than 700. According to Ellie Mae, the average credit score on a closed FHA purchase is 687 and the average credit score on all loans is 722.

Back End Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI)

Perceptions

Many renters have mentioned that they carry too much debt which is preventing them from moving forward with the purchase of a home. According to the Fannie Mae report:

  • 59% of all renters don’t know what DTI is acceptable
  • 25% think you need at under 25%
  • 7% think you need under 39%

The Reality

Lenders like to see a back-end ratio that does not exceed 36%. Fannie Mae’s maximum total DTI ratio is 36% of the borrower’s stable monthly income. The maximum can be exceeded up to 45% based on credit score and other requirements.

Bottom Line

Don't let a lack of knowledge or misinformation keep your family from buying a home this year. Meet with a local real estate professional who can evaluate if your ability to buy now!

 

What Do You Really Need to Qualify for a Mortgage?

by Melissa Thompson
 

What Do You Really Need to Qualify for a Mortgage? | Keeping Current Matters

A recent survey by Ipsos found that the American public is still somewhat confused about what is actually necessary to qualify for a home mortgage loan in today’s housing market. The study pointed out two major misconceptions that we want to address today.

1. Down Payment

The survey revealed that consumers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the report, 36% think a 20% down payment is always required. In actuality, there are many loans written with a down payment of 3% or less.

Here are the results from a Digital Risk survey done on Millennials:

Millennials Down Payments | Keeping Current Matters

2. FICO Scores

The Ipsos survey also reported that two-thirds of the respondents believe they need a very good credit score to buy a home, with 45 percent thinking a “good credit score” is over 780. In actuality, the average FICO scores of approved conventional and FHA mortgages are much lower.

Here are the numbers from a recent Ellie Mae report:

FICO Score Of Approved Loans | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

If you are a prospective purchaser who is ‘ready’ and ‘willing’ to buy but not sure if you are also ‘able’, sit down with someone who can help you understand your true options.

 

Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment?

by Melissa Thompson
 

Should I Wait to Put Down a Bigger Down Payment? | Keeping Current Matters

Some experts are advising that first time and move-up buyers wait until they save up 20% before they move forward with their decision to purchase a home. One of the main reasons they suggest waiting is that a buyer must purchase private mortgage insurance if they have less than the 20%. That increases the monthly payment the buyer will be responsible for.

In a recent articleFreddie Mac explained what this would mean for a $200,000 house:

Difference Between a 5% and 20% Down Payment | Keeping Current Matters

However, we must look at other aspects of the purchase to see if it truly makes sense to wait.

Are you actually saving money by waiting?

CoreLogic has recently projected that home values will increase by 4.3% over the next 12 months. Let’s compare the extra cost of PMI against the projected appreciation:

PMI vs Appreciation | Keeping Current Matters

If you decide to wait until you have saved up a 20% down payment, the money you would have saved by avoiding the PMI payment could be surpassed by the additional price you eventually pay for the home. Prices are expected to increase by more than 3% each of the next five years.

Saving will also be more difficult if you are renting, as rents are also projected to increase over the next several years. Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell explained in a recent report:

"Our research found that unaffordable rents are making it hard for people to save for a down payment ... There are good reasons to rent temporarily – when you move to a new city, for example – but from an affordability perspective, rents are crazy right now. If you can possibly come up with a down payment, then it's a good time to buy a home and start putting your money toward a mortgage."

Laura Kusisto of the Wall Street Journal recently agreed with Dr. Gudell:

“For some renters there may be a way out: Buy a house. Mortgages remain very affordable.”

Mortgage rates are expected to rise…

Freddie Mac is projecting that mortgage interest rates will increase by almost a full percentage point over the next 12 months. That will also impact your mortgage payment if you wait.

Bottom Line

Sit with a real restate or mortgage professional to truly understand whether you should buy now or wait until you save the 20%.

 

More Home Buyers Putting Less Down

by Melissa Hayes Thompson

More Home Buyers Putting Less Down | Keeping Current Matters

recent post by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that in the months of December 2014 through February 2015, there was an increase in the number of first-time buyers making a down payment of 6% or less as compared to last year:

  • 2014: 61% of first time home buyers
  • 2015: 66% of first time home buyers

While the number of small down payments is lower than it was in 2009 when 77% of down payments were 6% or less, it does show the recent decisions by both Fannie Maeand Freddie Mac to offer 3% down payment options to certain buyers is impacting the market. FHFA Director Mel Watt recently explained why Freddie and Fannie made this decision:

“The new lending guidelines by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”

This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.

Will these programs create future challenges?

Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:

“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”

Also, the Urban Institute revealed data showing what impact substantially lower down payments would have on default rates in today’s mortgage environment. Their study revealed:

“Those who have criticized low-down payment lending as excessively risky should know that if the past is a guide, only a narrow group of borrowers will receive these loans, and the overall impact on default rates is likely to be negligible. This low down payment lending was never more than 3.5 percent of the Fannie Mae book of business, and in recent years, had been even less. If executed carefully, this constitutes a small step forward in opening the credit box—one that safely, but only incrementally, expands the pool of who can qualify for a mortgage.”

Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:

Fannie Mae 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac 3% Down Program

Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion. Contact your mortgage professional for a deeper understanding.

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Low down payments make a comeback

by Melissa Hayes Thompson

By Mark Fahey   @CNNMoney

Borrowers who have steady income and good credit, but not much money in the bank, will find that it recently became easier to buy a home.

Down payment requirements, which rose after the subprime mortgage crisis, are easing again as lenders and mortgage backers try to draw in new buyers.

"It's one of the things that's inhibiting first-time homebuyers," said Rob Chrane, president of Down Payment Resource. "There are a lot more people who can qualify for a home that don't realize that they can."

FHA cuts insurance costs

The Federal Housing Administration has long backed loans for borrowers with lower credit scores and with down payments as low as 3.5%, but until this year it also required hefty insurance payments.

FHA annual insurance premiums dropped dramatically at the beginning of 2015. The change, from 1.35% to only 0.85%, will make FHA loans a better choice for some borrowers after years of prohibitively high premiums, said Anthony Hsieh, chief executive officer of LoanDepot, one of the largest FHA lenders in the country.

"We're starting to get back to what's reasonable," said Hsieh. "The crisis has shaken the market so much that there is no doubt there was an overreaction."

Fannie and Freddie

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee more than half the country's mortgages. At the end of 2014, the two government-backed companies announced plans to slash minimum down payments from 5% to 3%.

The new program from Fannie Mae went into effect in December, and the one from Freddie Mac will begin in March. Both are for first-time homebuyers or those refinancing their mortgage, and the Freddie Mac program is restricted to low-income borrowers.

Loans backed by the two mortgage giants still require private mortgage insurance for down payments below 20%.

And just because Fannie and Freddie are willing to buy loans with looser requirements doesn't mean the lenders themselves will change their standards.

"It's a phenomenon of the post-recession where lenders learned their lesson," said David Stevens, president of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "They learned that simply because the investor will allow it, the lender may still not feel comfortable doing it."

"Rural" and VA loans

Other types of low-down payment loans have also become far more popular since the recession.

Despite its name, loans from the Department of Agriculture are available to borrowers in many locations that are hardly rural, and they include no-money-down financing. To be eligible for USDA loans, a borrower must have dependable income and decent credit, and can't already own a home, exceed certain area median income thresholds or live within certain urban areas.

Department of Veteran Affairs loans are also booming, coming close to outnumbering FHA loans. Although not available to the average American homebuyer, VA mortgage backing allows veterans and surviving spouses to purchase property with no money down, no outside insurance and limited closing costs.

Average VA interest rates are lower, and credit and income requirements are also more flexible than conventional loans.

A return to easier credit

The shift toward loans with lower down payments has drawn criticism from some politicians -- after all, easy loans with little money down contributed to the crisis that led to the Great Recession.

Stevens said that new rules for qualified mortgage loans and more diligent underwriting by lenders will protect the lending market.

"Down payment has become the single largest barrier to home ownership," said Stevens. "Quite frankly, it's going to be a lot safer and sounder this time than it was in the past."

CNNMoney (New York)

 

Avoid a Major Mortgage Mistake by Increasing Your Down Payment

by Melissa Hayes Thompson


For prospective home buyers who have annuities, selling those future payments for a lump sum of money now can help them avoid getting locked into a mortgage black hole.

First-time home buyers often save money for years to collect enough for a down payment on their house. Once they have that 5 or 10 percent of the house value in the bank, they settle follow through by agreeing to 15 to 30 years of monthly payments on the mortgage, one that costs a fortune in interest.

What many don’t realize is that increasing a down payment for a $300,000 home by just 5 percent can reduce the mortgage by as much as $30,000. Putting money from an annuity sale toward a down payment offers significant long-term savings on your home – decreasing the amount paid for interest, loan principal and monthly payments.

Affording A Down Payment For Your Dream House

For most people, the greatest obstacle for getting a new home is the down payment. While mortgage payments might be easily figured in to a budget, putting together enough cash to buy takes time and hard work. Buyers generally pay a minimum of 3.5 percent (for federal housing loans) to 20 percent for down payments. For a $200,000 home, this means coming up with at least $40,000 to bring to closing. As people still recover from the recession, saving $40,000 while still keeping up with regular bills and living expenses seems like an impossible feat.

Unfortunately, paying less than 20 percent has other financial consequences. Lenders can (and almost always do) require you to purchase private mortgage insurance, which increases your monthly expenses and the total you are paying for your home. Additionally, they may restrict you to mortgages with high interest rates or even deny your application.

How Much Are You Actually Paying?

Let’s look at an example. You’ve found the home of your dreams for $300,000 and you’re ready to commit to a 30-year mortgage. If you can afford a down payment of $30,000 (which would be 10 percent of the cost), then you will need a mortgage of $270,000.   What kind of terms can you expect from a lender?   Banks look at a variety of factors to determine your loan eligibility and your credit-worthiness. They collect credit scores, employment history and the size of your down payment to determine your interest rate. According to The Washington Post, in 2014 the average interest rate was 3.99 percent for a fixed-rate loan. With a 10-percent down payment, an applicant with excellent credit would likely be able to qualify for this rate.

With the help of a mortgage calculator, you can find out how much this will cost. In this example, monthly payments are $1,287.47.   Here is a price chart based on a 30-year mortgage for a $300,000 home:

30-year mortgage at an interest rate of 3.99%

Mortgage (Down Payment)   Monthly Cost    Interest Paid
$285,000 ($15,000)   $1,299.37    $182,909

The Difference Annuity Cash Can Make

Using money from your annuity to bulk up your down payment can be a game-changer. The larger down payment reduces the necessary principal for the loan and decreases the home loan to value ratio. Because of this, a bank may qualify you for a lower interest rate.   For these examples, we used an interest rate of 3.625 percent. This chart shows how every increase in the down payment significantly decreases the total interest paid.

30-year mortgage at an interest rate of 3.625%

Mortgage (Down Payment)    Monthly Cost    Interest Paid
$285,000 ($15,000)    $1,299.37    $182,909
$270,000 ($30,000)    $1,231.34    $173,282
$255,000 ($45,000)    $1,162.93    $163,655
$240,000 ($60,000)    $1,094.52    $154,028

Now, if you are an annuity owner and you pull out $15,000 from selling annuity payments, you can increase your down payment by 5 percent, making a down payment of 15 percent. This reduces the mortgage total and the total interest is now $163,655.10. If we compare the interest on both mortgages, the difference between the old and new mortgages is nearly $30,000 — $193,487.47 – $163,655.10 = $29,832.37.   If you double your down payment to 20 percent, and kept the same interest rate, your savings will be closer to $40,000 — $193,487.47 – $154,028.32 = $39,459.15.

Eliminating the Waiting Period

Bottom line: If you own an annuity or structured settlement and want to own a home, don’t go through another decade of saving or sit around until the date your annuity payments are scheduled. And avoid the mistake of making a small down payment. By paying more up front, you reduce the home loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, which increases your eligibility for a mortgage and the likelihood of receiving approval for a better interest rate.

By selling annuity payments – using a resource that is already at your disposal – and putting the money toward your home, you can save tens of thousands in interest. Let your neighbor be the one with the 10-percent down payment, while you pay 20 percent and spend the next 30 years with $200 more in your pocket every month.

By Alanna Ritchie and Learn More About Annuities

Breaking News: Fannie and Freddie formally announce 3% Down Programs

by Melissa Hayes Thompson
 

Breaking News: Fannie and Freddie formally announce 3% Down Programs | Keeping Current Matters

Yesterday, HousingWire reported that both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac formally announced their 3% down options on home purchases. Fannie Mae’s plan will be effective December 13, 2014 while the Freddie Mac plan will be available March 23, 2015. The HW article quotes FHFA Director Mel Watt:

“The new lending guidelines released today by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will enable creditworthy borrowers who can afford a mortgage, but lack the resources to pay a substantial down payment plus closing costs, to get a mortgage with 3% down. These underwriting guidelines provide a responsible approach to improving access to credit while ensuring safe and sound lending practices.”

This is great news to millions of purchasers that have been denied the opportunity to own their own home because of the almost impossible burden of saving for a 20% down payment.

Will these programs create future challenges?

Certain pundits fear that low down payment programs will create a wave of foreclosures down the road. Mr. Watt also addressed this concern:

“To mitigate risk, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will use their automated underwriting systems, which include compensating factors to evaluate a borrower’s creditworthiness. In addition, the new offerings will also include homeownership counseling, which improves borrower performance. FHFA will monitor the ongoing performance of these loans.”

We also recently addressed this issue.

Here are the direct links to the guidelines for each program:

Fannie Mae 3% Down Program

Freddie Mac 3% Down Program

Remember, as with any new program, there will be some confusion as it is unveiled. Contact a mortgage professional for a deeper understanding. Don’t have a mortgage person yet? Contact your local real estate agent for a referral.

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Melissa Thompson
Crye-Leike Realtors
6525 N Quail Hollow Road
Memphis TN 38120
(901) 729-9526
(901) 756-8900
Fax: (901) 435-0620