Archive for Home Mortgage Tips

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

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 13th, 2017

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.

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

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 8th, 2017

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 purchasing a home as a recent graduate, contact us today.

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

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 6th, 2017

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 home buying options, contact us today.

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

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 1st, 2017

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 purchasing a home as a single person, you’re not alone. Give our professional real estate team a call. We will be happy to share our guidance and expertise.

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

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on November 8th, 2017

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 begin searching for your new home, contact your local real estate professionals.

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How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 11th, 2017

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a BankruptcyWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won’t stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today’s article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment

Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you’re able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget

As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren’t left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you’ll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you’re unsure about this, contact us and we’ll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It’s Buying Time

Finally, it’s worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay.

Don’t get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the financing process and to discuss your options, contact your local real estate professional.

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Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart Strategies

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 4th, 2017

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart StrategiesAs with any loan or line of credit, there are benefits to getting your mortgage paid down. You’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands over the repayment period. Moreover, you’ll own your home outright that much quicker.

Let’s explore four money-smart strategies that will help you to pay your mortgage off faster.

Start With The Obvious And Increase Your Payments

It won’t come as a surprise that one of the easiest ways to get your mortgage paid off is to increase the amount you put towards your monthly payments. Most lenders will allow you to place any extra funds directly against the outstanding loan amount or “principal.” This is very efficient as it avoids having to commit any additional funds to interest.

One trick that many families use is to round the payment amount up to the nearest hundred-dollar figure. For example, if your mortgage payment is $652.32, you would pay $700 instead. This might be an easy burden on your wallet but still amounts to an extra seven percent of your payment.

Accelerate Your Payment Schedule

Another way to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible is to accelerate how frequently you make payments. For example, if you are currently making payments on a monthly basis, you can switch to bi-weekly payments instead. This means that instead of 12 large payments per year, you’re making 26 smaller payments. However, your interest will still compound on a monthly basis which means that over time you’ll end up paying less in interest. Not all mortgage products support this, so it is best to check with your mortgage professional to ensure it is an option open to you.

Dedicate Your Tax Refund To Your Mortgage

If you receive a tax refund or other large sum of money, consider using it to pay your mortgage down further. This is an excellent use for a spare block of cash as it gets you one step closer to owning your home, free and clear.

Refinance Your Mortgage To A Shorter Term

Finally, one last strategy is to look at a shorter term for your mortgage. For example, if you started with a 30-year amortization, you can refinance down to a 15-year loan instead. This will require having access to significantly more money to place against your payment, so be sure to carefully budget for this additional cost.

These are just four of the many ways that you can get your mortgage loan paid off faster. For more information or to inquire about a mortgage for your next home, contact your local real estate professional.

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Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step Guide

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 3rd, 2017

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step GuideAre you in the market for a new house or apartment? If you are financing the purchase by taking out a mortgage, you’ll want to know how to make this transaction run as smooth as possible. In today’s article, we’ll share a quick four-step guide to speeding up the mortgage closing process.

Step #1: Check In On Your Credit Score

The first step before applying for your mortgage is to check in on your credit. Request a copy of your credit score and history from one of the major reporting firms. Go over this report, paying close attention to any old or outstanding items that you may have already dealt with. Many individuals have old delinquencies that must be challenged to be removed from the report, so take care of these first before applying.

Step #2: Have All Your Documents Prepared

As with any loan, taking out a mortgage requires a small mountain of paperwork. The best way to speed this process up is to have all of your financial documentation ready for inspection and use by the lender.

Note that each mortgage provider has different requirements for what you’ll need. A brief list of some items which are commonly requested includes your current employment details, recent pay stubs, recent W-2 forms or tax returns, proof of self-employment or other means of income, asset details such as bank accounts and investments and debt information such as other mortgages, student loans and more.

Step #3: Have An Offer Ready

If you have already settled on the home that you want to buy, it’s best to get your offer prepared in advance of being fully approved for mortgage financing. Your real estate agent will be able to help with crafting an offer that is subject to the home passing an inspection. It’s especially important to have an offer ready in the event that other buyers are competing for the same home that you are.

Step #4: Get The Inspection Finished Promptly

While your lender is completing the home appraisal process, you should be having the home inspected. Getting the inspection completed promptly will prevent any delays due to problem areas that might be uncovered. For example, a pest problem like termites may need to be dealt with, or minor repairs to the roof structure may need to be scheduled.

Following the steps above will help to ensure that your mortgage closing process goes as smoothly as possible. To learn more, contact your local real estate professional today.

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Understanding the Differences Between ‘Prequalified’ And ‘Preapproved’ For a Mortgage

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 22nd, 2017

Understanding the Differences Between 'Prequalified' And 'Preapproved' For a MortgageAre you in the market for a new home? If you are going to rely on mortgage financing to cover some of the purchase cost, you will need to start the application process as soon as possible. However, what if you just need to know how much you will be able to borrow so you can start finding homes in your price range?

Let’s take a quick look at the difference between being ‘prequalified’ and ‘preapproved’ for mortgage financing.

The Process Starts With Prequalification

The first step in obtaining mortgage financing is to speak with a mortgage professional to get prequalified. After sharing some quick information about your financial assets, income, and any debts, your advisor will share a range of financing options and amounts that you may qualify for. Prequalification is typically done free of charge and either in person or over the phone.

Note that your mortgage lender will not be doing any digging in the prequalification stage. There’s no credit check and no hard look at your assets. Don’t get too excited if you are prequalified for a large mortgage as you will still need to be approved.

Once You Are Preapproved, You Are All Set

Preapproval, on the other hand, is a firm commitment to access to a certain level of mortgage financing. Your mortgage lender will require a variety of information to get an idea of your financial situation, your current and future employment, your level of risk and more. Once they have a good idea of how much mortgage you can afford, you will be provided with a conditional commitment letter. This letter outlines how much the lender is willing to offer to you as well as other vital information like your mortgage loan interest rate.

Speed Up The Process By Preparing Beforehand

Finally, it is worth a mention that you can speed up the mortgage process by having all of your application paperwork ready before the initial meeting. Gather up your most recent income tax returns, pay stubs and bank statements. If you have investments or other financial assets, document those. You will also want to be up front about any outstanding debts that you are paying off. The more prepared you are, the faster the application and pre-approval process will go.

Have you found the home of your dreams? Contact your local real estate professional to get started.

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You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on September 15th, 2017

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let’s get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You’re almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there’s an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the ‘origination fee’ or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final ‘closing’ of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney’s Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you’ll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won’t even notice most of these fees. For more information about the mortgage process, contact your local real estate professional today. We’re happy to help.

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