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VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible

VA Loans: Making a Home for the Brave Possible | Simplifying The Market

Since the creation of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Home Loans Program, over 22 million veterans have achieved the American Dream of homeownership. Many veterans do not know the details of the program and therefore do not take advantage of the benefits available to them.

If you are a veteran or you know someone who is, here is a breakdown of the VA Home Loan benefits that can be used to achieve the American Dream!

Top 5 Benefits of a VA Home Loan

  1. The greatest benefit of a VA Loan is that borrowers can buy a home with a 0% down payment. In 2016, 82% of all VA Loans put down 0%!
  2. Primary Mortgage Insurance (PMI) is not required! (Most other loans with down payments under 20% require PMI, which adds additional costs to your monthly housing expense!)
  3. Credit Score requirements are also lower for VA Home Loans. The average FICO® score of a borrower for an approved VA Loan is 620, compared to 676 (FHA) or 753 (Conventional).
  4. There is also a limitation on a veteran buyer’s closing costs. Sellers can pay all of a buyer’s loan-related closing costs and up to 4% in concessions in some cases.
  5. Even with interest rates rising, VA Loans continue to have the lowest average interest rates of all loan types.

Who Qualifies for a VA Home Loan?

One of the most important first steps when applying for a VA Home Loan is obtaining your Certificate of Eligibility (COE). “The COE verifies to the lender that you are eligible for a VA-backed loan.”

You Can Apply for a VA Loan if You:

  • Serve 90 consecutive days during wartime
  • Serve 181 consecutive days during peacetime
  • Have more than 6 years in the National Guard or Reserves
  • Are the spouse of a service member who has died in the line of duty or as the result of a service-related disability

You Can Use a VA Loan To:

  • Purchase a Home
  • Purchase a Condo
  • Build a Home
  • Refinance an existing home loan
  • Make improvements to a home by installing energy-related features or making energy-efficient improvements

Bottom Line

For more information or to find out if you or a loved one would qualify to use the VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together! Thank you for your service!

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Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home?

Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home? | Simplifying The Market

There are many people sitting on the sidelines trying to decide if they should purchase a home or sign a rental lease. Some might wonder if it makes sense to purchase a house before they get married or start a family, some might think they are too young, and still, some others might think their current incomes would never enable them to qualify for a mortgage.

We want to share what the typical first-time homebuyer actually looks like based on the National Association of Realtors’ most recent Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers. Here are some interesting revelations on the first-time buyer:

Are You Wondering If You Can Buy Your First Home? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

You may not be much different than many people who have already purchased their first homes. Let’s meet to determine if your dream home is within your grasp today.

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Are Lending Standards Too Loose…or Too Tight?

Lending Standards 

Lending standards

Are lending standards too loose or too tight? With home values appreciating at record rates, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing bubble.  Similar to the one we experienced a decade ago. 

One of the major culprits of that housing boom and bust was the loosening of standards for mortgage credit.

In a study done at the University of North Carolina immediately after the crisis, it was revealed that:

“Lenders began originating large numbers of high risk mortgages from around 2004 to 2007, and loans from those vintage years exhibited higher default rates than loans made either before or after.”

A study by John V Duca, John Muellbauer, and Anthony Murphy concluded that those risky mortgages caused the housing crisis:

“Our findings indicate that swings in credit standards played a major, if not the major, role in driving the recent boom and bust in US house prices.”

How do today’s mortgage lending standards compare to those from 2004 to 2007?

The Mortgage Bankers’ Association tracts mortgage lending standards in their Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI).

A decline in the MCAI indicates that standards are tightening, while increases in the index are indicative of loosening credit.

The chart below hightlights the period between 2004 and 2007 when loose lending standards caused the housing bubble.

We can see that the index has risen slightly over the last several years.  We are nowhere near the standards that precipitated the housing crisis.

Lending Standards

Bottom Line

If anything, lending standards today are too tight and are preventing some qualified buyers from getting the mortgage credit they deserve.

If you're looking to get pre-qualified and learn about the lending standards, visit my partners page.  Contact one of my preferred mortgage specialists.

For all your real estate needs, contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217 and start the home buying process.

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Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise?

Will Home Prices Fall as Mortgage Rates Rise? | Simplifying The Market

Mortgage interest rates have increased by more than half of a point since the beginning of the year. They are projected to increase by an additional half of a point by year’s end. Because of this increase in rates, some are guessing that home prices will depreciate.

However, some prominent experts in the housing industry doubt that home values will be negatively impacted by the rise in rates.

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:

“Understanding the resiliency of the housing market in a rising mortgage rate environment puts the likely rise in mortgage rates into perspective – they are unlikely to materially impact the housing market…

The driving force behind the increase are healthy economic conditions…The healthy economy encourages more homeownership demand and spurs household income growth, which increases consumer house-buying power. Mortgage rates are on the rise because of a stronger economy and our housing market is well positioned to adapt.”

Terry Loebs, Founder of Pulsenomics:

“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices. These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective home buyers.”

Laurie Goodman, Codirector of the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute:

“Higher interest rates are generally positive for home prices, despite decreasing affordability…There were only three periods of prolonged higher rates in 1994, 2000, and the ‘taper tantrum’ in 2013. In each period, home price appreciation was robust.”

Industry reports are also calling for substantial home price appreciation this year. Here are three examples:

Bottom Line

As Freddie Mac reported earlier this year in their Insights Report, “Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing,”

“As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”

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How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | Simplifying The Market

According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are currently at 4.61%, which is still near record lows in comparison to recent history!

The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power.

Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget.

The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a home within the national median price range while keeping your principal and interest payments between $1,850-$1,900 a month.

How Current Interest Rates Can Have a High Impact on Your Purchasing Power | Simplifying The Market

With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be closer to 5% by this time next year.

Act now to get the most house for your hard-earned money.

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Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control?

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | Simplifying The Market

Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time.

These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago.

Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage.

Is Family Mortgage Debt Out of Control? | Simplifying The Market

Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%).

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:

“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”

Bottom Line

Many families paid a heavy price because of questionable practices that led to last decade’s housing crash. It seems the American people have learned a lesson and are not repeating that same behavior regarding their mortgage debt.

Source: Keeping Matters Current

If you are a distressed home owner looking options, want to know what your home is worth or are in the market to sell real estate,  contact your Century 21 Allstars 100 Real Estate Agent, Steven Batista, today! I can offer selling tips, provide you with a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and more!

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Getting a Pre Approved Mortgage

Getting a Pre Approved Mortgage Should Always Be Your First Step

pre approved mortgage

When starting the home buying process, some homebuyers research how to get a preapproved mortgage. Getting a pre approved mortgage should always be your first step.

In many markets across the country, the number of homebuyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the number of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where homebuyers often need to stand out.

One way to show you're serious homebuyer is to get a pre approved mortgage before starting your home search. Even if you're in a non-competitive market, understanding your budget will let you know if buying a home is attainable.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of a pre approved mortgage in the ‘My Home’ section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the advantages of working with Bergen County Realtor, Steven Batista, is that I have many relationships with lenders. They will be guide you through the process and help you obtain a pre approved mortgage.

Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application. You'll have to provide your lender credit reports, debt, employment history, down payment and residential history.

Freddie Mac describes the ‘4 Cs’ that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre approved mortgage is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying. It often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential homebuyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today.

If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so.

If you are searching for a Bergen County Realtor, contact Steven Batista at 201-207-5217  I help you find your dream home in Bergen County NJ.

 

Source: Keeping Matters Current

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The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents’ Home Was

The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents' Home Was | Simplifying The Market

There is no doubt that the price of a home in most regions of the country is greater now than at any time in history. However, when we look at the cost of a home, it is cheaper to own today than it has been historically.

The Difference Between PRICE and COST

The price of a home is the dollar amount you and the seller agree to at the time of purchase. The cost of a home is the monthly expense you pay for your mortgage payment.

To accurately compare costs in different time periods, we must look at home prices, mortgage rates, and wages during each period. Home prices were less expensive years ago, but paychecks were also smaller and mortgage rates were much higher (the average mortgage interest rate in 1988 was 10.34%).

The best way to measure the COST of a home is to determine what percentage of income is necessary to buy a home at the time. That would take into account the price of the home, the mortgage interest rate and wages at the time.

Zillow just released research that examined home costs using this formula. The research compares the historic percentage of income necessary to afford a mortgage to the percentage needed today. It also revealed the cost if mortgage rates continue to rise as experts are predicting. Here is a graph of their findings*:

The COST of Your Next Home Will Be LESS Than Your Parents' Home Was | Simplifying The Market

Rates would need to jump to 7% in order for the percentage of necessary income to be greater than historic norms.

Bottom Line

Whether you are a homeowner considering selling your current house and moving up to the home of your dreams, or a first-time buyer trying to purchase your first home, it’s a great time to move forward.

*Assumptions in the Zillow report: Buyer puts 20% down, takes out a conforming, 30-year fixed-rate mortgage at rates prevailing at the time, earns the median household income, and is buying a median-valued home.

Source: Keeping Matters Current

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Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Simplifying The Market

Whether you are a buyer searching for your first home, or a homeowner looking to move up to your next home, you should pay attention to where mortgage interest rates are heading.

Over the course of 2018, according to Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates have increased from 3.95% in the first week of January to 4.40% in the first week of April.

At first glance, the difference between these numbers in such a short amount of time could be concerning, but if we look at the graph below, we’ll see that rates have already started to level off and return to the mark set in February.

Mortgage Interest Rates Have Begun to Level Off | Simplifying The Market

This is great news for anyone looking to buy a home this spring! The spring is always one of the busiest seasons for home buying, and with rates increasing even more, buyers have come off the fence to lock in great rates! This is still great advice as the experts believe that rates will continue to rise throughout the year.

Every month, Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors release their projections for where they believe mortgage rates will be in the coming months. If we take the average of what each of the four organizations is predicting for the second quarter, rates are expected to rise to about 4.48% by June.

That average climbs to 4.73% by the end of this year.

So, what does this mean?

Waiting until the end of the year to buy, with rates still projected to increase, will end up costing you more money on your monthly mortgage payment. For every $250,000 you need to borrow to purchase your dream home, you will spend $49.21 more per month, $590.52 per year, and over $17,700 by the end of your 30-year mortgage.

And that’s just the impact of your interest rate going up!

Bottom Line

If you are ready and willing to purchase a home, find out if you’re able to. Let’s get together to evaluate your needs and help you with next steps!

Source: Keeping Matters Current

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What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)?

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | Simplifying The Market

When it comes to buying a home, whether it is your first time or your fifth, it is always important to know all the facts. With the large number of mortgage programs available that allow buyers to purchase homes with down payments below 20%, you can never have too much information about Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI).

What is PMI?

Freddie Mac defines PMI as:

“An insurance policy that protects the lender if you are unable to pay your mortgage. It’s a monthly fee, rolled into your mortgage payment, that is required for all conforming, conventional loans that have down payments less than 20%.

Once you’ve built equity of 20% in your home, you can cancel your PMI and remove that expense from your mortgage payment.”

 As the borrower, you pay the monthly premiums for the insurance policy, and the lender is the beneficiary. Freddie Mac goes on to explain that:

“The cost of PMI varies based on your loan-to-value ratio – the amount you owe on your mortgage compared to its value – and credit score, but you can expect to pay between $30 and $70 per month for every $100,000 borrowed.” 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the average down payment for all buyers last year was 10%. For first-time buyers, that number dropped to 5%, while repeat buyers put down 14% (no doubt aided by the sale of their homes). This just goes to show that for a large number of buyers last year, PMI did not stop them from buying their dream homes.

Here’s an example of the cost of a mortgage on a $200,000 home with a 5% down payment & PMI, compared to a 20% down payment without PMI:

What Is Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)? | Simplifying The Market

The larger the down payment you can make, the lower your monthly housing cost will be, but Freddie Mac urges you to remember:

“It’s no doubt an added cost, but it’s enabling you to buy now and begin building equity versus waiting 5 to 10 years to build enough savings for a 20% down payment.”

Bottom Line

If you have questions about whether you should buy now or wait until you’ve saved a larger down payment, let’s get together to discuss our market’s conditions and help you make the best decision for you and your family.

Source: Keeping Matters Current