3 Tips To Consider When Buying A Home With An FHA Mortgage

Posted in Mortgage by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 28th, 2018

Tips to Sidestep Common FHA Loan Problems

FHA loans are becoming increasingly popular these days as potential homeowners may not able to qualify as easily for conventional mortgages.

The FHA insures some higher-risk loans, in turn allowing borrowers with low down payments and less than perfect credit to purchase homes and bolster the housing market.

However, while getting through the loan process with an FHA mortgage loan is not necessarily more difficult than with a conventional or conforming loan, there are some issues that you will want to be aware of.

Property Condition

You can’t buy just any property with a FHA loan, or any other loan for that matter. All lenders are concerned with the condition of a property, especially as it relates to livability and safety. 

Major deficiencies in a home will almost always be noted when the home is seen by the FHA appraiser. The appraiser must deem it to be livable, without any conditions that could jeopardize health or safety. 

Sometimes you can get the seller to make the needed repairs to pass the lender requirements. In other cases, you may want go an alternate route. The FHA 203K streamline loan allows you to borrow up to $35,000 for home repairs to bring the house up to code.

Low Appraisal

The primary role of the appraiser is to estimate it’s market value. These estimates are based on the property’s features and a comparison to similar properties that have sold recently. If the appraisal is low, the loan funding could fall through because the FHA underwriting guidelines (along with almost all conventional guidelines) will not let you borrow more than the home’s appraised value. You can, however, add to the amount you bring in to closing if you prefer to compensate for a low appraised value.

Rather than trying to scrape together a bigger down payment, you may want to take the information to the seller to renegotiate the purchase price. The seller will likely recognize that other buyers would be in the same boat, leading the seller to agree to a lower purchase price.

High Debt-to-Income Ratio

Debt to income ratios are a concern with virtually every type of mortgage loan on the market today. Your FHA loan may encounter a snag in the underwriting process if your total debt payments, including your new mortgage, would be a high percentage of your income.

FHA has an automated underwriting program called TOTAL Scorecard which uses an algorithm to determine a borrower’s qualification. The process is quick, and often you can make up for a high debt-to-income ratio with other compensating factors, like a larger down payment or a cash reserve of several months of mortgage payments.

If you have any questions regarding FHA loans or any other home financing questions, please give us a call!

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Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 12th, 2016

Refinancing to Pay for Renovations? Consider the VA's Energy Efficient Mortgage ProgramMaking renovations that are energy efficient is not just a great way to reduce energy output, but it’s also an effective way of decreasing monthly utility costs. It serves as a one-time investment that will save money in the long run.

However, renovations are costly and not everybody has the extra finances required to make energy efficient changes. This is where the VA’s energy efficient mortgage (or EEM) program comes into play.

The program is designed to allow veterans to apply for a new mortgage or refinance an existing one with extra funds to renovate the home to be up to energy efficient standards.

The Three Tiers Under The VA’s Energy Efficient Mortgage Program

The VA has three tiers for the cost of renovations to be done under the EEM program. The lowest, and easiest to be accepted for, is for improvements that will total under $3,000. A list of costs or a contractor’s quote may be required in the application process.

The second tier is for renovations that will cost between $3,001 and $6,000. This will require the homeowner or homebuyer to get a Home Energy Rating System report to detail how efficient a home is currently and what can be done to decrease its HERS rating.

The final tier is for any improvements to the home that will cost over $6,000. This is the most difficult tier to receive acceptance for as both the Department of Veterans Affairs and the private lender will need to approve the renovations.

Types Of Improvements Under The EEM Program

The program covers a variety of renovations for the home. These include: new insulation to walls, floors and ceilings, solar powered heating and cooling systems, thermal doors, thermal windows and new caulking and weather stripping.

There are also items that will not be covered by the program, including new roofing, vinyl siding and air conditioning units.

Using The EEM Program To Receive A Larger Loan

Any veteran or currently active military member looking to buy a brand new home can still benefit greatly from the energy efficient mortgage program. If a new home undergoes a HERS report and passes as being energy efficient, this can be applied to a VA mortgage to receive as much as $6,000 extra on the loan.

Speak with your local mortgage professional to go into more detail on the intricacies of refinancing under the EEM program and whether or not your home will qualify. 

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The FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Score Has Been Reduced. Here’s What You Need to Know…

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 29th, 2016

The FHA Mortgage Minimum Credit Score Has Been Reduced. Here's What You Need to KnowCredit is of considerable concern when it comes to buying a home, but if you’re on the market for a new place in the next few months there may be some timely news that applies to you. If you haven’t heard about the changes to the Federal Housing Administration’s (FHA) credit score minimum, here’s some information on the recent reduction and how it may impact your home purchase.

Information On The FHA

Started in 1934, the FHA is the organization responsible for insuring the loans that are available to homebuyers in the United States. These loans are not provided directly by the FHA, rather the FHA serves as the insurer for the loans that are leant by financial institutions of the United States. While there are a number of guidelines that must be met by borrowers in order to ensure the FHA will back their loan, a lowered mortgage minimum credit score means that those with a less-impressive credit profile may have a better opportunity for home ownership.

The Minimum Credit Score Reduction

The strength or weakness of your credit history has a significant impact on whether or not you will qualify for a mortgage or even pre-approval, so for those whose credit has suffered the recent drop in the minimum will be good news. Previously, the FHA required a score of 640 so that a borrower could be approved for a mortgage, but the reduction by 60 points to a credit score of 580 means greater possibility for those who might fit into a lower credit category.

A Lower Mortgage Minimum And The Market

With the opportunity for home ownership that will be opened up to potential buyers, there is a strong possibility that the market will experience a noticeable shift. Many millennials are poised to enter the real estate market this year, and with more people considering a house as a result of a reduction, there could be an increased demand in housing purchases. While the prices in rural areas have been dropping off, the housing in metropolitan areas may experience a sizeable upsurge.

With the reduction of the mortgage minimum credit score by the FHA, there are likely to be some shifts in the real estate market in the coming year that will affect demand and price. If you’re on the market for a new home and are interested in a purchase that will align with your finances, you may want to contact your local real estate professional for more information.

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How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much of a Home You Can Afford

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 9th, 2016

How to Calculate Your True Cost of Living and Determine How Much Mortgage You Can AffordA monthly mortgage can seem like enough of a financial responsibility on its own, but there are many factors involved in home ownership that affect its fiscal feasibility. If you’re in the market for a house and are wondering how your income will stack up against the rest of your expenses, here’s how to determine a home cost that’s reasonable for you.

Determine Your Down Payment

Before you start with anything else, you’ll want to determine the amount of money you can put down so you can estimate your monthly payments. The traditional amount for a down payment is 20% of the home’s purchase price, so if you don’t have anything close to this amount it might be worth waiting a little longer so you can minimize your payments and the amount of interest or mortgage insurance you’ll be paying in the long run. Each person’s situation is different, and there may be programs available with less than 20% down. This is an excellent question to pose to your trusted mortgage advisor.

Calculate Your Monthly Budget

If your mortgage cost already seems high, it will definitely be worth carefully calculating your monthly expenditures. Instead of a wild guess, take the time to sit down and calculate what your costs are including food, utilities, transportation and any other monthly necessities. Once you do this, it’s also very important to add any debt repayments you’re making to the mix. The total amount of your estimated mortgage costs, debt payments and living expenses should give you a pretty good sense of if your mortgage is viable in the long term.

Don’t Forget About The Extras

When it comes to purchasing a home, many people envision that they will be eating and sleeping their new home so don’t pay attention to all of the additional costs that can arise with living life. A new home is certainly an exciting, worthwhile financial venture, but ensure you’re realistic about what it entails. If you’re planning to go back to school or have children in the future, you’ll want to add a little bit of extra cushion in your budget so that you don’t have to put your other dreams on hold for the sake of your ideal home.

It can be very exciting to find a home you feel good about, but it’s important before making an offer to realize the amount of house you can afford so you don’t find yourself in a hole down the road. If you’re currently on the market for a new home, contact your trusted mortgage professional for a personal consultation.

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Help Available To Struggling Homeowners Set To End In 2016

Posted in Home Financing Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 24th, 2016

HARP Refinancing Ends in 2016: Here's How to Take Advantage Before It's GoneMany homeowners are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments on a monthly basis, and it can often seem like there are limited options for remedying the situation. If you haven’t heard of HARP refinancing and you’re a homeowner who’s looking for a lower interest rate, this may be the right solution to your payment woes. Instead of letting the opportunity blow by, here’s all you need to know before this option ends in 2016.

The Details On HARP Refinancing

Known as HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program was created in 2009 following the economic crash that was brought on by the housing crisis. In the wake of hard economic times, the program was devised as a means of streamlining the process for those who couldn’t refinance their mortgage. Instead of reliable homeowners being stuck with a rate because they don’t qualify for refinancing, HARP enables them to acquire lower interest rates.

Some Of The Requirements For HARP

In order for you to be able to apply for a HARP refinancing, you must have a mortgage owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac that was provided to you on or before May 21, 2009. While you’ll want to check with your mortgage holder to determine if you are eligible for this refinancing option, you’ll have to be up-to-date on your mortgage payments with a loan-to-value ratio that is above 80%. For more information on a HARP refinancing, you can visit their website for all the details.

Carefully Consider The Closing Costs

While refinancing your mortgage and acquiring a lower interest rate may sound like instant money savings, it’s important to find a lender that can offer HARP without any closing costs, or at least costs low enough they’ll balance out in your favor. HARP refinancing can certainly be an option worth serious consideration, but if you have lowered interest rates and a high closing cost, it’s possible that you will not be able to re-coup the extra money you’re paying.

HARP refinancing is set to end in 2016, but if you’re a homeowner who is looking to refinance you may want to look into this program for saving money on your mortgage. By familiarizing yourself with the requirements and determining if the closing costs balance out, you may have an easier monthly payment on your hands. If you are paying off your home but are interested in what’s available on the market, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional for more information.

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Everything You Need to Know About Fannie Mae’s New Home Ready Mortgage

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 10th, 2016

Everything You Need to Know About Fannie Mae's New Home Ready MortgageTraditionally, getting a mortgage requires you to have a level of income appropriate to the size of home that you’re buying. But for a lot of low-income and minority borrowers, a simple measure of one person’s income isn’t an accurate measure of whether or not that person can afford a home.

Now, with the Home Ready mortgage from Fannie Mae, multigenerational and extended households can have easy access to mortgage funds. How does the Home Ready mortgage work? Here’s what you need to know.

Flexible Down Payment Requirements Make Home Ownership More Accessible

Traditional mortgages require you to pay 20% of the home price upfront in the form of a down payment, or 5% if you register for Private Mortgage Insurance. And although 5% is a small down payment, it’s still a significant sum of money for a lot of low-income borrowers. But now, with the Home Ready mortgage, qualified borrowers can access financing with as little as 3% down, making it easier to become a homeowner.

Non-Borrower Household Income Is Now Counted As Income

Another big change that the Home Ready mortgage introduces is that lenders may now count all household income when determining affordability criteria (but not qualifying income). There’s no minimum requirement for funds to come directly from the primary borrower, which means that non-borrower members of the household can have their income counted when determining whether a mortgage is affordable. It’s also possible to use non-occupant borrower income – for instance, the income of a borrower’s parent – to be counted as income.

For extended and multigenerational households, this means mortgages are much more affordable as all household income can now be counted as eligible.

Eligibility Requirements: Who Can Qualify For A Home Ready Mortgage?

Home Ready mortgages come with certain eligibility criteria attached that homeowners will need to meet. In order to be eligible, a household must be below a certain percentage level of area median income (AMI) – that is, a household must fall somewhere in the lower half of their area’s income scale.

For properties that are located in “low-income census tracts”, there is no income limit. For properties in high-minority areas and designated disaster areas, borrowers at or below 100% of AMI can access Home Ready financing. And in all other census areas, borrowers can access financing if their annual household income is no greater than 80% of AMI.

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Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA Loan

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on February 3rd, 2016

Struggling to Get Approved Because of Your Income? 5 Reasons to Consider a FHA LoanBuying a home isn’t cheap. But if you’re determined to become a homeowner, the FHA home loan program can help. This loan program, ideal for first-time buyers with low incomes, can help you to build your credit and make home ownership a reality.

So why should you consider an FHA loan? Here are just a few ways you’ll benefit from these government-backed mortgages.

You Can Get Approved With Just 3.5% Down

Traditional mortgage lenders typically require you to pay 20% down on your mortgage, or 5% if you have good credit and agree to pay mortgage insurance premiums. But for a lot of younger people with lots of debt and low incomes, even a 5% down payment is an unrealistic burden. With an FHA loan, you can be approved for a mortgage with a down payment as low as 3.5% – which means a $200,000 home can be yours for as little as $7,000 down.

You Can Get A Loan Even With A High Debt-To-Income Ratio

Standard mortgages are difficult to get if you have a high debt-to-income ratio. Typically, lenders will want to see that your mortgage costs will consume no more than 28% of your income, and your total payments toward debts from all sources will be no more than 36% of your income. But with an FHA loan, you can get a mortgage with a 29/41 ratio.

You Can Qualify With A Low Credit Score

If you have a credit score under 700, you’ll pay higher interest rates on typical mortgages – and if it’s below 660, you may not get approved at all. But with an FHA mortgage, you can get approved for a 3.5% down payment with a credit score as low as 580 – or lower, if you agree to a 10% down payment.

FHA Closing Cost Regulations Are Better For Low-Income Buyers

FHA loans have different closing cost regulations than traditional mortgages. With an FHA loan, you can bundle closing costs into the mortgage or even use gift funds for 100% of the closing costs. That means home ownership is more accessible for people with lower incomes.

An FHA Loan Can Help You Find A Good Home

With most mortgages, you’re free to buy any home you wish as long as you stay within a set price range. But with an FHA loan, any home you buy must be habitable, sanitary, and safe – otherwise the FHA won’t approve your loan. That means using an FHA loan will ensure you get a good home.

Buying a home with an FHA loan is a great way to become a homeowner if a traditional mortgage isn’t an option for you. Call your local mortgage professional to learn more.

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Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You’ll Want to Keep Trying

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 13th, 2016

Have You Been Denied for a Mortgage? Here Are 3 Reasons Why You'll Want to Keep TryingIf you’re in the market for a new home, you’ll most likely need a mortgage in order to afford it. But for some home buyers, getting a mortgage isn’t easy. Banks and other lenders are often hesitant to lend money to certain consumers, often for good reason.

But sometimes, lenders’ reasons for declining you aren’t entirely valid. That’s why, if you’ve been denied for a mortgage, you’ll want to keep trying to get mortgage funds. Here are three factors that can influence the likelihood of approval on the second try.

A Second Appraisal Might Change Your Circumstances

Sometimes, a mortgage lender will deny a loan because the property value of the home in question isn’t large enough to back the loan. If your mortgage lender declines you because of a poor loan-to-value ratio, getting a second appraisal could help. A lot of appraisal companies will give wildly different appraisals on the same property, with some brokers reporting valuation differences of up to $1.3 million.

Bear in mind that you cannot get two appraisals through the same lender, so if you choose to have the home appraised a second time, you’ll need to find a new lender.

Cleaning Up Your Credit Report Can Work Wonders

What’s on your credit report will have a large role in determining whether or not you get the mortgage you want. If you’ve been denied because of entries on your credit report, you’ll want to take every step possible to correct those report issues. If you’ve been more than 30 days late on a payment in the past, it will show on your credit report and affect your score – but by calling your creditor and asking them to remove the negative, you can bring your credit report back into good standing.

You’ll also want to pay off any and all past due balances as soon as possible. If you can’t pay what you owe in full, you’ll want to negotiate with your creditor to pay part of the amount. This will result in the debt showing on your credit report as “paid as agreed”, which will boost your credit score.

An Extra Down Payment May Be A Good Idea

Sometimes, a lender will decline a borrower if the borrower is asking for too much money. If you’re pursuing a mortgage worth more than 95% of the property value, you’ll probably be declined. But if you make an extra down payment, you can lower your loan amount – which may incline your lender to approve your application.

If you’ve been declined for a mortgage, don’t give up. As you can see there are steps you can take to get approved.

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Understanding Mortgage Pre-Approvals and How to Avoid Being Declined for One

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on January 6th, 2016

Understanding Mortgage Pre-approvals and How to Avoid Being Declined for OneThe mortgage process is a long and complicated one, with a number of similar-sounding terms that can easily confuse first-time homebuyers. A pre-approval is not the same thing as a pre-qualification, and it’s important to understand everything that goes into a pre-approval. Being declined during the pre-approval process means you’ll have a hard time getting the funds you need to buy your home, so it’s important that you know what the process is going to look like before going into it.

How does a pre-approval work, and how can you make sure you won’t be declined? Here’s what you need to know.

What Is A Mortgage Pre-Approval?

A mortgage pre-approval is a step that happens somewhere near the start of the home buying process. Being pre-approved means you have a preliminary loan commitment from a mortgage lender. Pre-approval isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you’ll get a mortgage, but rather, a statement that if all goes according to plan, your lender will most likely issue a mortgage to you.

Pre-approvals can make the mortgage process shorter and easier, but they’re not legally binding. If you later find a better mortgage through another lender, you don’t have to take out a mortgage through the lender that pre-approved you.

What Do You Need To Be Pre-Approved?

In order to be pre-approved, your lender will need to evaluate your finances and your ability to pay for your mortgage. You’ll want to meet with your lender and provide them with bank and creditor documents that clearly show your income, your assets, and your debts. You can expect your lender to run a credit check on you in order to determine your employment status and verify that you’ve accurately reported your finances.

If you meet your lender’s criteria, you’ll receive a commitment letter that states what size of a mortgage your lender is willing to give you.

Red Flags: Sure Signs That You’re Destined To Be Declined

You can be declined for a mortgage pre-approval for any number of reasons. If you have a poor credit score, a high debt-to-income ratio, or a low or unstable income, you likely won’t meet the lender’s minimum borrower requirements – and you’ll be declined. To avoid being declined for a pre-approval, you’ll want to ensure you always pay your bills on time, negotiate with your creditors to pay off your debts, or boost your income.

A mortgage pre-approval can help you to narrow your home search and access a mortgage loan. That’s why it’s important to ensure you don’t get declined during the pre-approval.

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3 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage Approval

Posted in Home Mortgage Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on December 30th, 2015

3 Things That Will Absolutely Kill Your Chances for a Mortgage ApprovalIf you’re about to seek approval for a mortgage, you’ll want to ensure you have a solid credit score and clean financial records to boost your likelihood of being approved. There are certain characteristics that lenders want to see in a mortgage applicant before they agree to give a loan, and you want to prove that you’re a responsible borrower. But certain behaviors can easily tank your application and crush your home ownership dreams.

Before you seek approval, make sure your finances are in order. Avoid these three mortgage-killing habits while your lender evaluates your loan and you’ll quickly find yourself holding the keys to your new home.

Using Up Most Of Your Available Credit

It can be tempting to start buying furniture when your mortgage is about to be approved, but you’re better off waiting on the shopping trip until after you get the green light from your lender. Using a significant amount of your available credit – or applying for new credit – will impact your debt-to-income ratio and change your credit score. You might even end up getting yourself a higher interest rate or reducing your credit score to below the qualifying range – so don’t go credit-crazy until after you’re approved.

Being Late On Your Monthly Bills

Payment history makes up one third of your credit score, so you’ll want to make sure you pay all of your bills on time and in full if you’re looking for a mortgage. A single 30-day late payment on a bill can easily knock 50 to 100 points off your credit score. Even worse, some lenders require a full year of on-time payments before they’ll even consider you for a mortgage.

Co-Signing Someone Else’s Loan

Co-signing on a loan is generally risky under any circumstances, but if you’re trying to get approved for a mortgage, taking on liability for someone else’s debt will change your debt-to-income ratio. Being on the hook for a debt you don’t own makes you look like a risk to lenders – if the primary borrower on the loan you co-signed stops making payments, you’ll need to pay the loan, and that could divert your cash away from your mortgage.

Getting approved for a mortgage is a critical part of the home buying process, but too many would-be homeowners torpedo their own chances of getting a mortgage by making poor decisions.

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