Mortgage Information

With the wide variety of loans available, home buyers have the freedom to choose a loan that best suits their needs. Early on in the home buying process, it’s a good idea to meet with several companies to compare the types of mortgages they offer and for the best price and terms. Working with a mortgage insurer can be very easy, whether your loan is insured by the FHA or a private mortgage insurance company.

Home Equity Credit

Home equity lines of credit are a useful source of credit. Initially at least, they may provide you with large amounts of cash at relatively low interest rates and they may provide you with certain tax advantages unavailable with other kinds of loans. Be sure you understand how much your monthly payments will be and what they cover.

Many companies will charge a fee for lending you money. The fee is usually a percentage of the loan and is sometimes referred to as “points.” If you have a fixed rate loan, the interest rate is set for the life of the loan. However, many companies offer variable rate mortgages, also known as adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs.

How Much Can You Afford?

Generally speaking, to qualify for conventional loans, housing expenses should not exceed 26 to 28 percent of your gross monthly income. For FHA loans, the ratio is 29 percent of gross monthly income. Monthly housing costs include the mortgage principal, interest, taxes and insurance, often abbreviated as PITI.

One way to determine how much to spend for housing, is to compare your monthly income with your long term obligations and expenses. When budgeting to buy a home, it’s important to allow enough money for additional expenses such as maintenance and insurance costs. If you are purchasing an existing home, gather information such as utility cost averages and maintenance costs from previous owners or tenants to help you better prepare for home ownership.

Homeowner’s insurance or property insurance is another cost you’ll have to consider. The lending institution holding the mortgage will require insurance in an amount sufficient to cover the loan. However, to protect the full value of your investment, you might want to consider purchasing insurance that provides the full replacement cost if the home is destroyed. Some insurance only provides a fixed dollar amount which may be insufficient to rebuild a badly damaged house.

Down Payment Loans & Gifts

Loans and gifts can help with your down payment but you can not use this strategy for all loan programs. The gift can be from any relative or can be collected through new innovative programs, like the Bridal Registry where couples receive money into an account that can be used for the down payment.

Another popular tactic, which can be used in a wider range of programs, is to borrow from your 401K program. If you have a 401K program with your employer, you can withdraw without a penalty for your down payment and pay it back over a specified period. There are some drawbacks, the payment will be used in qualifying and your 401K account will not continue to grow as fast. Even with these drawbacks, it is often a smart move if this is your only option.

Down Payment Assistance

Many local and state agencies run bond programs to generate funds to help individuals and families with a down payment. Contrary to public thinking, these bond issues are not a type of welfare. The government knows that it can be tough to buy that first home, especially on a limited income.

Most agencies are income sensitive, but you may be surprised by the high level of acceptable income. The income level is especially high if you have children or dependents. Most agencies also have purchase limits, but they are adjusted to the income qualifications level.

If you are able to obtain down payment assistance, you may receive a lower interest rate. The drawback is that it often takes quite a bit of work with extra paperwork and mandatory education classes. Our advice, talk to one of our agents or a mortgage professional who is familiar with both local and state agencies and their policies.

Appraisals

Individuals applying for a loan are often only interested in obtaining the loan and unfortunately are not worried about the prudence of buying the property at the agreed price. In fact, some purchasers try to encourage appraisers to increase the appraised value so that they can purchase the home regardless of its value.

The majority of real estate appraisals are requested by mortgage companies to validate the property’s purchase price for loan purposes. Except for periods of very low interest rates when everyone is refinancing, most loans are for the purchase of real estate and ordered after a sale price is negotiated. Purchasers mistakenly assume that mortgage companies are looking after their interests in the purchase transaction.

An appraisal of real estate is the valuation of the rights of ownership. The appraiser must define the rights he intends to appraise. The appraiser does not create value, the appraiser interprets the market to arrive at a value estimate. As the appraiser compiles data pertinent to a report, consideration must be given to the site and amenities as well as the physical condition of the property. An appraiser may spend only a short time inspecting the property, however, this is only the beginning.

Considerable research and collection of general and specific data must be accomplished before the appraiser can arrive at a final opinion of value. Due to the many types of value, such as fair market value, insurance value, tax value and value in use, the need to precisely define the purpose of the appraisal is essential.

An appraisal is an opinion of value or the act or process of estimating value. This opinion or estimate is derived by using three common approaches, all derived from the market.

The cost approach to determining value is to estimate what it would cost to replace or reproduce the improvements as of the date of the appraisal, less the physical deterioration, the functional obsolescence and the economic obsolescence. The remainder is added to the land value.

Mortgage Insurance

Mortgage insurance protects the mortgage company against financial loss if a homeowner stops making mortgage payments. Mortgage companies usually require insurance on low down payment loans for protection in the event that the homeowner fails to make his or her payments.

When a homeowner fails to make the mortgage payments, a default occurs and the home goes into foreclosure. Both the homeowner and the mortgage insurer lose in a foreclosure. The homeowner loses the house and all of the money put into it. The mortgage insurer will then have to pay the mortgage company’s claim on the defaulted loan. For this reason, it is crucial that the family buying the home can really afford it, not only at the time it is purchased, but throughout the time period of the loan.

Although the cost of the mortgage insurance is paid by the home buyer, or borrower, the mortgage insurer works directly with the mortgage company. Mortgage insurance is available to commercial banks and mortgage bankers, all of whom offer mortgage loans to home buyers.

Remember that mortgage insurance is not the same as credit life insurance, also called mortgage life insurance. This type of policy repays an outstanding mortgage balance upon the death of the person who took out the insurance policy.

Government & Private Insurance

Now that we have explained how mortgage insurance works and why it is necessary, let’s look at the basic kinds of mortgage insurance. Low down payment mortgages can be insured in two ways, through the government or through the private sector. Mortgages backed by the government are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) or the Farmers Home Administration (FmHA).

Although anyone can apply for FHA insurance, the other two government mortgage guarantee programs are much more targeted. The VA program is limited to qualified, eligible veterans and reservists. This program is very specialized, so contact your mortgage professional for the details. The FmHA insures loans for the construction and purchase of homes in rural communities.

Obtaining conventional financing is the alternative to obtaining a home loan backed by the government. Conventional mortgages are all home loans not guaranteed by the government, including those guaranteed by private mortgage insurers.

The Secondary Market

The mortgage company’s decision to use mortgage insurance is driven by the requirements of investors in the mortgage market. Because of the losses that could occur, major investors require mortgage insurance on all loans made with low down payments.

The three primary investors in home loans are Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) and Government National Mortgage Association (Ginnie Mae). By purchasing and selling residential mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac help keep money available for homes across the country.

Unlike Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Ginnie Mae does not actually buy mortgages. It adds the guarantee of the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government to mortgage securities issued by mortgage companies.

Get A Credit Report

Don’t assume that minor credit problems or difficulties stemming from unique circumstances, such as illness or temporary loss of income, will limit your loan choices to only high-cost lenders. If your credit report contains negative information that is accurate, but there are good reasons for trusting you to repay a loan, be sure to explain your situation to the lender or Gerken & Associates real estate agent.

If your credit problems cannot be explained, you will probably have to pay more than borrowers who have good credit histories. But don’t assume that the only way to get credit is to pay a high price. Ask how your past credit history affects the price of your loan and what you would need to do to get a better price. Take the time to shop around and negotiate the best deal that you can.

Whether you have credit problems or not, it’s a good idea to review your credit report for accuracy and completeness before you apply for a loan. To order a copy of your credit report, contact any of these companies:


Equifax: 1.800.685.1111


TransUnion: 1.800.888.4213


Experian: 1.888.397.3742