4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage Faster

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 23rd, 2019

4 Ways To Pay Off My Mortgage FasterFor most people, the mortgage payment is the biggest monthly expense. Whether you’re facing retirement or still working, it would be nice to be free of this debt. Although you probably can’t pay it off in one lump sum, it is possible to pay off your mortgage sooner than expected.

Here are four strategies to try.

1. Make Bi-Weekly Payments

You could shave eight years off a 30-year mortgage simply by breaking down your monthly payments into two payments instead of one. You’ll pay the same amount each month while the interest paid over the length of the loan is reduced. 

2. Make Principal-Only Payments

If you look at your mortgage payment slip, you’ll notice that the majority of your monthly payment goes toward interest. Slash years off your mortgage by making occasional principal-only payments on top of your regular payments. Consult your lender to see how many of these are allowed per year. If they’re limited, maximize each opportunity by making as large a principal-only payment as you can manage.

3. Refinance When Rates Drop

If your mortgage originated when interest rates were high, refinance it now that rates are still historically lower. You may need to pay closing costs, but you’ll still end up dramatically lowering the amount of interest you are paying on your mortgage. While you’re at the refinancing game, consider getting into a shorter term length. This tactic will probably increase your monthly payment, but if you can afford it, it’s a good strategy for paying down your mortgage quicker.

4. Pay Extra Each Month

If you can afford it, pad your monthly payment with a little extra as often as possible. Just paying $50 or $100 extra will enable you to get rid of your mortgage a little faster. Find the extra money by cutting back on small niceties, such as subscriptions, take-out food and more. You won’t notice the lack of small conveniences, but you will certainly notice a shortened mortgage loan term.

When you work to pay off your mortgage faster, you essentially save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of the loan. Implement one or more of these ideas to become mortgage-free just a little bit sooner.

If you are interested in purchasing a new property or listing your current home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional.

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5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In Low

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 5th, 2019

5 Options To Consider When Your Appraisal Comes In LowYikes! You are set on buying the home that you picked out and the appraisal comes back at a lower amount than the amount needed for the home loan to be approved. What do you do? After you calm down your significant other and then take three deep breaths, here are some options to consider.

Request A New Appraisal

Appraisals are only one person’s professional opinion. There are rules that must be followed when making an appraisal; however, there is still some flexibility in how to apply the rules. Check the comparables (also called “comps”) that the appraiser used as the basis for setting the appraised value.

There usually have to be at least three houses that are a similar size, similar age, have a similar condition, and are located in a similar neighborhood. If the home that you want to buy just had major renovation with a lot of work done on it, the appraiser may have missed this and should add more to the appraisal for the home having a better condition than the comparables.

Check to determine if any of the comparables are wrong. For example, if the appraiser uses a home that is in poor condition that may cause the appraisal to be too low. When there is another choice of a home in a better condition, which is more similar to the one being sold, the appraisal might be higher.

If you find problems with how the appraisal was done, request a review from your lender and see if they will allow you to pay for a second appraisal. Getting a new appraisal with a higher value is the easiest way to fix this problem.

If that does not work, then you can try these other options:

Negotiate With The Lender

Some lenders may cooperate with a loan restructuring if you qualify for a program with a higher loan-to-value (LTV). This may also require private mortgage insurance (PMI) if your loan amount exceeds 80% of the appraised value of the home. Working with your trusted mortgage professional can lead to unexpected options to get your home purchase completed.

Negotiate With The Seller

Trouble may come up if an appraiser cannot find comps that meet the selling price of the home. This may be caused by the home having unique qualities, a market that does not have other homes like it, or possibly that the sale price is more than the home is actually worth. If the price of the home is actually too high based on the appraisal, the seller might lower the sales price in order to keep the transaction together.

Increase Your Down Payment

If the amount of the difference is small and you can cover it, you can still proceed by taking a lower amount for the loan and adding money to your down payment to make up the difference.

Find Another Home To Buy

Your purchase offer should be subject to obtaining financing. If the appraisal comes in low and that prevents you from obtaining financing at the original sales price, you likely will be able to cancel the purchase agreement without penalty and search for a new home.

Your trusted real estate professional is well-versed in these types of issues and ready and willing to assist you with your successful home purchase.

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Managing Finances Before Applying For A Mortgage

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on April 4th, 2019

Managing Finances Before Applying For A MortgageAre you planning on using a mortgage to help cover the cost of a new home? If so, you will want to prepare your finances and figure out how you will manage all those wallet-draining monthly expenses. Let’s take a look at how to run a quick financial health check to ensure you are ready to apply for a mortgage.

Update (Or Start) Your Monthly Budget

First, it is essential to get the basics out of the way. If you haven’t already, it’s time to start a monthly budget to keep track of your income and expenses. Once you have a mortgage, it will be important to prioritize your monthly payments so that you don’t end up falling behind.

Starting a budget is easy and can be done with mobile apps, software, a spreadsheet or a pen and paper. List all sources of income so that you know exactly how much cash you are working with. Then, list out every one of your expenses. It can be tough to remember them all, so consider using debit and credit card statements from the past few months as a reminder.

Get A Copy Of Your Credit Report

Next, you will want to get a copy of your credit report so you can see what potential mortgage lenders will see when assessing your financial history. This is a free service that you can request once per year, so be sure to take advantage. Note that you will want to use government-approved websites for requesting your credit report. Be wary of scams.

Do You Have A Down Payment?

A down payment is not required for every home purchase, but having one saved up can make the buying process easier. The amount you will want to have saved up will depend on the cost of your home, whether you plan on carrying private mortgage insurance and a variety of other factors. If possible, try to save up an amount close to (or more than) twenty percent of the home’s purchase price.

Ready? Chat With A Professional

Now that you have your financial health in check, it is time to meet with a mortgage professional to discuss your financing options. 

As soon as you know what you can afford, the next step is to contact your trusted real estate agent who can help you find the house of your dreams!

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5 Key Tips To Prepare For A Quick Mortgage Approval

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 19th, 2019

5 Key Tips To Prepare For A Quick Mortgage ApprovalWhether you’re finally prepared to get into the real estate market or you want to know how you can make a deal quick, there are a few necessary documents you’ll need to prove your reliability to a mortgage lender.

Here are the documents you’ll want to have on hand when the time comes.

Previous Tax Returns

In order to ensure the earnings information you’ve provided to the lender, you’ll need to have your tax returns for the two years prior to your mortgage application. In addition, you may also be required to provide your W-2s as backup documentation.

Bank Statements

To make sure you’re a solid bet who will be able to make your down payment, you’ll need to present bank statements to ensure you have a cushion in the case that interest rates increase. If you do get money gifted to you for your down payment, you’ll need a letter to prove you’re not indebted to the provider.

Recent Pay Stubs

It can be much more difficult to get approved for a mortgage if you have a patchy work history or happen to be self-employed, so you’ll need 2 months of recent pay stubs to prove consistent employment. The pay stubs provided should also be an accurate reflection of the salary you’ve provided on your application to ensure no discrepancies.

Investment Statements

It’s certainly a good sign to the lender if you have a healthy balance in your checking and savings accounts, but you’ll also need to provide any statements for mutual funds and other investments. While they may not be necessary to prove financial soundness, they will help with approval if you have a lot of money squirreled away.

A Listing Of Debts

While it may be the least popular of the pile, a lender will also want to know about any outstanding debts like auto loans, credit card payments or student loans. It may be tempting to forego these documents, but it will give the lender a good sense of your honesty and your ability to manage your mortgage.

Mortgage approval may seem like a time-consuming process with no certain end, but by having the appropriate documentation and being upfront about your debts, you may be able to speed up the time frame.

If you’re interested in buying a new home, remember to rely on two of your best assets – your trusted real estate agent and your home mortgage professional. 

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8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit Score

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 7th, 2019

8 Ways To Maintain A Great Credit ScoreHaving an excellent credit score is very useful. The following are some tips on how to maintain a superb credit score.

Open Credit Accounts When You Do Not Need Them

If you don’t have any credit accounts, you will have a low score. The best time to open them is when you do not need them. Keep a small balance on them and pay it all off at the end of each month to avoid paying interest.

Charge Up To Half The Credit Limit Then Pay It All Back Within A Few Months

If you must use a credit line, only use half of it and pay it back quickly.

Buy Big Ticket Items With A Credit Card For Cash Back And Points

Even if you can pay cash for a big ticket item, you may find it beneficial to buy it with a card that gives a reward for making a purchase like cash back or rewards points. Then pay off the balance as quickly as you can.

Ask For An Increased Credit Line

For credit accounts that you have been paying on time, call the customer service department and tell them you are thinking about buying something that is slightly above your credit limit. Ask them if they can extend the limit. This usually works even if you do not actually buy something.

You can attempt to raise your credit limit this way about once per year. As you increase your available credit capacity while maintaining all accounts in a “paid as agreed” status, your credit score should go up.

Move Credit Balances To A New Card With Zero Interest

Many credit card companies offer a zero-interest period for transfers of credit card balances from another card. After doing this, transfer this balance, once again, to another card that has a similar offer before the zero-interest period expires.

Close Old Accounts When New Ones Are Open

Having too many credit card accounts can lower your score. Keep about half a dozen cards. Close the ones that you transferred the balance from to zero interest cards.

Use Automatic Payments To Make Sure Bills Are Paid On Time

Never miss a payment or pay late. You may want to use automatic bill payment systems to make sure you never let a bill slip by.

Monitor Credit Card Activity For Unauthorized Use

Monitor all credit card activity in real time. Immediately take action if you notice an unauthorized charge. Monitor your credit history file on the three credit bureau services of Equifax, Experian, and Transunion.

If you are interested in buying a new home or selling your current property, be sure to enlist the help of your trusted real estate professional.

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Mortgage Challenges For Self-Employed Home Buyers

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 6th, 2019

Mortgage Challenges For Self-Employed Home BuyersIt’s no secret that mortgage lending institutions look favorably on steady paychecks and positive debt-to-income ratios. That can leave many self-employed prospective home buyers feeling anxious about getting approved for a mortgage. But just like the 9-to-5ers who get regular paychecks, self-employed people earning a good living can get approved with a little due diligence.

The primary concern of mortgage lenders is not necessarily where your revenue comes from, it’s confidence that you can meet the monthly obligations. A lender probably wouldn’t see a significant difference between someone who was paid every two weeks and another paid monthly. Why should a self-employed earner be any different? While there are differences, that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing.

Self-Employed Mortgage Applicants Face ‘Different’ Scrutiny

When reviewing a self-employed person’s mortgage application, the lender can expand their consideration to items related to your business. Factors such as stability, longevity, location, and viability are issues that can come into play.

This type of review mirrors that of steady paycheck earners in terms of length of employment, history of layoffs and other potential revenue setbacks. There really isn’t a higher standard than for self-employed mortgage applicants. You enjoy a different professional life, and the process reflects those differences. That being said, there are a number of things you can do to put your best foot forward toward mortgage approval.

Strengthen Your Self-Employed Mortgage Application

First and foremost, every mortgage applicant must be able to demonstrate an ability to meet the monthly payments on paper. There is no way around the debt-to-income ratio. And although many self-employed people exercise some lifestyle flexibility in terms of tax deductions, your numbers have to prove you can take on a mortgage. That being said, there are important items you may want to consider when applying for a home loan.

  • Revenue Stability: Volatile swings in revenue are not generally persuasive. Lenders tend to like steady and positive growth reflected in your business and personal earnings.
  • Tax Returns Matter: This can be particularly problematic for people who find creatively legal ways to make revenue tax exempt. Home offices and company cars can lower your taxable income, but they also reduce your ability to pay the mortgage, at least on paper. Plan ahead by strategically filing strong earned-revenue tax returns.
  • Consistency Matters: There are a few ways to demonstrate consistency. It can be level monthly earnings or multiple years of tax returns in the same business. Your income may only be considered if it fluctuates in a way that frightens lenders.
  • Good Credit: Some cash-oriented people tend to discount the value of credit scores. The adage that “cash is king” may apply to the down payment, but a poor credit history can hurt your chances with lenders. Think “credit is king” when applying for a home loan.

Being self-employed does not mean you are at a strategic disadvantage when applying for a mortgage. But keep in mind that the home loan review can be slightly different.

As always, your best next step would be to consult with your trusted allies in real estate transactions – your trusted home mortgage professional and your trusted real estate agent. These partnerships can make a world of difference in the success of your home buying experience.

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Is a Hard Money Loan the Right Strategy for You?

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 5th, 2019

Is a Hard Money Loan the Right Strategy for YouWhen used as a part of an effective real estate investment strategy, hard money loans are an excellent tool to quickly increase holdings without risking existing properties. However, these loans aren’t for everyone.

What investors get the most value from hard money loans?

Investors With Less-Than-Stellar Credit

Investors with credit challenges can qualify more easily for hard money loans. That’s because these loans aren’t based on the borrower. While you will have to prove a measure of creditworthiness, hard money lenders are more interested in the property you plan to buy. If you default on your payments, the lending bank simply takes possession of your property. For that reason, high-value properties in good condition fetch the best terms with hard money lenders. 

If you’re turned down for more conventional funding sources, you may still be able to move forward with a hard money loan for the right property.

Cash-Strapped Veteran Investors

When the market is hot, it’s not unusual for an investor to sink the majority of their liquid assets into new properties. However, this can leave them left out in the cold when new properties come up for sale.

Experienced flippers who are temporarily out of cash can use hard money loans to fund the purchase of additional properties. This allows them to continue expanding their holdings without compromising money earmarked for other projects. The short loan term is no problem for these investors since they know a property sale is always imminent.

Quick Investments: When You Can’t Wait

Sudden auctions can be a blessing to real estate investors. Sometimes, however, these deals pop up at the least opportune time. If you have your eye on a property that promises to go fast, a hard money loan can get you the cash you need in less time than conventional sources. That means you can take advantage of rock-bottom cash auctions quickly.

Since hard money loans don’t have the most favorable repayment terms, many investors choose to convert them into more conventional loan structures after the initial purchase. This strategy allows investors to participate in quick sales without sacrificing too much profit to interest payments.

Hard money loans are a unique source of funding for real estate investors. Use them wisely to realize the benefits and increase your investment income.

Your trusted home mortgage professional can help guide you through all of your financing options. Another important key partnership is with your trusted real estate agent. These skilled professionals are well-versed in many types of real estate transactions. 

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3 Tips To Save For A Down Payment

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 24th, 2019

3 Tips To Save For A Down PaymentSaving up for a down payment can feel overwhelming. Most people have never saved up the kind of money it takes for a down payment. It can be done, though. The goal is to put 20% down on a house. This is what it takes if you don’t want to have to pay private mortgage insurance every month.

However, you don’t have to absolutely put 20% down. Some mortgage programs, such as VA and FHA loans, let borrowers put down as little as zero down or about 3.5% down. There are extra requirements with any kind of mortgage you get, so be sure to discuss those with your lender.

Whichever kind of mortgage you decide to try for, here are some tips for saving for a down payment.

Get A Head Start

The sooner you start saving for a down payment, the easier it will be. Even if you currently can’t see having any extra money for savings, tuck as much as you can into a savings account. Every single dollar will help later on. 

Invest Safely To Earn Interest On Your Down Payment

If your home purchase goal is two or more years away, consider investing your savings so it earns interest. Since you’re counting on that money to use for a life goal, invest in things with low or no risk. Also, invest in things that allow you to cash out with no penalties when you think you’ll be ready to buy.

Ideas include a bank CD, money market, tax lien certificate, or municipal bonds. You won’t earn massive amounts of interest with any of these vehicles, but in return you’ll have flexibility and security.

Request An Inheritance Advance

If you know that your parents have you in their will, you can request to get part of your inheritance early. Your parents may be able to give you up to a certain amount for your mortgage down payment with no penalty.

Be sure to check with your potential lender. Some mortgage programs have caps on how much of the down payment can be sourced from a third party.

Once you decide what kind of home you might like, and which mortgage programs you might qualify for, you can decide how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Use these three tips to save up. Before long, you’ll be ready to start shopping for the home of your dreams.

An essential partner is your trusted home mortgage professional. You can count on them to guide you every step of the way through your home loan process.

Remember, it’s never too early to contact your real estate professional. Looking at properties you like can be a helpful motivation to keep saving!

 

 

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U.S. Wage Increases Could Help Home Buyers

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 18th, 2018

U.S. Wage Increases Could Help Home BuyersThe struggle to achieve the American homeownership dream often feels like it happens in a vacuum. Everyday people work hard, save money and polish up their credit to get a low mortgage rate.

But there are powerful forces at work that are far beyond each person’s control. And until recently, the gap between American wage growth and rising home prices was widening. According to data coming out of the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment recently hit a 49-year low and wages are enjoying the greatest uptick in nearly a decade. That is good news for prospective home buyers.

American Wages On The Rise

The 2018 economic news has seemed like one long greatest hits album. Historic-low unemployment for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans has spurred confidence among these groups and the national unemployment has been steadily under 4-percent. The stock markets are booming, and the GDP growth has been impressive.

But there has been some frustration over stubborn wages that haven’t kept pace with other metrics. A report following stagnant salaries in February pointed to no slow down between rising home prices and wallowing pay rates. The growth rate was reportedly a modest 0.1 percent gain in February and that put Americans behind the curve in terms of buying homes.

But numbers coming out of the second quarter jobs report point to a 10-year high wage increase. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported wages are rising as employers compete to fill positions and the 12-month increase stands at 2.9 percent through August.

These are key numbers that may put a smile on potential home buyers’ faces.

  • Wages rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter of 2018.
  • Through August, wages rose 2.9 percent over the previous 12-month period.
  • Private industry compensation increased by 2.9 percent.
  • Government compensation increased by 2.3 percent, down from 2.6 in 2017.
  • Sales jobs gained by 3.5 percent.
  • Transportation jobs increased by 3.4 percent.

Experts are also claiming that setbacks from hurricanes likely blocked wage growth from topping the 2.9 high in 2009.

Where The Housing Market Stands

There’s little doubt that the surging economy put a higher number of Americans in position to purchase homes. However, inventory has remained well behind demand and that created a seller’s market with rising listing prices. But home prices are coming within reach for more people in 2018 and possibly 2019 market.

Since bottoming out in 2102, today’s home prices reportedly stand at about 6 percent higher than they were at their 2006 peak. That is not necessarily an indication that another housing bubble exists. Rather, the uptick in home prices is a natural reaction to an inventory shortage and economic growth.

The optimistic news for prospective home buyers is that wage growth appears to be gaining on home costs. As the gap closes, it’s likely that more and more people will be financially able to secure the American Dream of owning a home.

If you are in the market for a new home, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional!

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Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage Ready

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 11th, 2018

Best Things To Do Now To Get Your Finances Mortgage ReadyYou probably already know that qualifying for a mortgage can be the biggest hurdle — aside from actually finding that dream property — along the path to home ownership.

Rather than agonizing about it, however, there are some positive actions you can take in advance to help you realize your dream.

Take A Close Look At Your Budget

If you don’t currently operate with a comprehensive household budget, get started now to analyze your income and monitor your spending habits. There’s no better way to prepare for home ownership than by being realistic about how you spend your money. If you don’t have a regular savings program, or if you’re constantly short on cash prior to the next payday, take steps to remedy the problem. Plan for the future by getting the present in check.

Gather Employment And Earnings Records

Mortgage lenders want to see stability and commitment. Finding and organize your employment records to show a consistent earnings pattern and, hopefully, a record of growth, both in terms of income and responsibility. Simplify the task of gathering required documents by collecting all records in a binder or notebook that can easily be copies when it’s time to submit them to a lender. It’s a confidence-building step as well.

Organize Your Banking Records

Lenders will not only want to see employment records, but they will require copies of all bank and investment accounts as well. Again, by being organized and getting a handle on your dollar inflow and outflow, you’ll gain insights into your individual spending habits and make the job easier for a mortgage specialist.

Make Copies Of Your Tax Returns

Tax returns confirm and validate all the other financial information that you will be required to supply. Typically, returns for the past two or three years will be required. If you own a small business or have income in addition to that from paid employment, make copies of those records as well.

Put A Halt To Spending

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate your serious intent to purchase — and pay for — a new home is by curtailing your spending on impulse purchases and expensive entertainment. This is not the time to buy a new car, book an exotic vacation, purchase major electronics or even home furnishings, or commit to time payments of any sort. Frugality should become your mantra in the months leading up to loan qualification.

Monitor Your Credit Cards

If your credit rating is within acceptable limits, do what you can to make all payments on time, pay down balances, minimize new purchases and demonstrate your continuing ability to “live within your means.” Do not apply for new credit cards, no matter how tempting the offers, because increased account activity can adversely affect your FICO score. In addition, if you have a blip on your credit report, do what you can to repair it prior to making a mortgage loan application, or be prepared to explain the circumstances, in detail and in writing.

Applying for a loan need not be scary. Understanding the financial reality is a great benefit.

Securing your financing is an important part of the home buying experience. Your trusted real estate agent is ready to help you every step of the way.

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