Should you get a fixed-rate or adjustable rate mortgage? A conventional loan or a government loan? Deciding which mortgage product is best for you will depend largely on your unique circumstances, and there is no one correct answer. Prior to choosing a home loan, you should know the advantages and risks of adjustable-rate mortgages to make an informed, prudent decision.
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The most common type of loan option, the traditional fixed-rate mortgage includes monthly principal and interest payments which never change during the loan’s lifetime.
Adjustable-rate mortgages include interest payments which shift during the loan’s term, depending on current market conditions. Typically, these loans carry a fixed-interest rate for a set period of time before adjusting.
Hybrid ARM mortgages combine features of both fixed-rate and adjustable rate mortgages and are also known as fixed-period ARMs.
HARP 2.0 is a refinance option for homeowners that are “underwater,” meaning they owe more on their home than their home is worth.
FHA home loans are mortgages which are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), allowing borrowers to get low mortgage rates with a minimal down payment.
VA loans are mortgages guaranteed by the Department of Veteran Affairs. These loans offer military veterans exceptional benefits, including low interest rates and no down payment requirement. This program was designed to help military veterans realize the American dream of home ownership.
Interest only mortgages are home loans in which borrowers make monthly payments solely toward the interest accruing on the loan, rather than the principle, for a specified period of time.
Balloon mortgages include a note rate that remains fixed initially, and the principal balance becomes due at the end of the mortgage term.
Reverse Mortgages allow senior homeowners to convert a portion of their home equity into cash while still living in the home.
Graduated Payment Mortgages are loans in which mortgage payments increase annually for a predetermined period of time (e.g. five or ten years) and becomes fixed for the remaining duration of the loan.
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A conventional loan is a loan that is not insured by the government; the lender takes on the risk of losing money in the event that the borrower defaults on the mortgage. Conventional loans (including jumbo loans) offer both adjustable and fixed rates to borrowers, and the loans can be non-conforming or conforming. The rates are usually low, and only have a private mortgage insurance (PMI) requirement if there is less than a 20% down payment on the home. Conventional loans are known for having a speedier loan process, so taking out a conventional loan is a good bet if you need to have your loan quickly. However, conventional loans require a minimum 5% down payment and have stricter credit standards than their government counterparts.
A government-backed loan is insured, either completely or partially, by the U.S. government. The government does not lend money to the borrower; instead, it promises to repay some or all of the money to the lender in the event that the borrower defaults. This reduces the risk for the lender when making a loan.Government loans (FHA, USDA or VA loans) may have higher interest rates and often require the borrower to pay some sort of mortgage insurance. VA loans are a great exception to the rule, but borrowers must have served in the military without dishonorable discharge. Generally, government loans have lower credit score and down payment requirements than conventional loans, and usually have lower closing costs associated with the home purchase. Government loans are therefore a great option for first time home buyers due to their lower qualifying requirements.
Special Loan Options for Active & Retired Military
The first step in obtaining a loan is to determine how much money you can borrow. In case of buying a home, you should determine how much home you can afford even before you begin looking. By answering a few simple questions, we will calculate your buying power, based on standard lender guidelines.
You may also elect to get pre-approved for a loan which requires verification of your income, credit, assets and liabilities. It is recommended that you get pre-approved before you start looking for your new house so you:
More on Pre-Qualification
LTV or Loan-To-Value ratio is the maximum amount of exposure that a lender is willing to accept in financing your purchase. Lenders are usually prepared to lend a higher percentage of the value, even up to 100%, to creditworthy borrowers. Another consideration in approving the maximum amount of loan for a particular borrower is the ratio of monthly debt payments (such as auto and personal loans) to income. Rule of thumb states that your monthly mortgage payments should not exceed 1/3 of your gross monthly income. Therefore, borrowers with high debt-to-income ratio need to pay a higher down payment in order to qualify for a lower LTV ratio.
FICO Credit Scores are widely used by almost all types of lenders in their credit decision. It is a quantified measure of creditworthiness of an individual, which is derived from mathematical models developed by Fair Isaac and Company in San Rafael, California. FICO scores reflect credit risk of the individual in comparison with that of general population. It is based on a number of factors including past payment history, total amount of borrowing, length of credit history, search for new credit, and type of credit established. When you begin shopping around for a new credit card or a loan, every time a lender runs your credit report it adversely effects your credit score. It is, therefore, advisable that you authorize the lender/broker to run your credit report only after you have chosen to apply for a loan through them.
Self employed individuals often find that there are greater hurdles to borrowing for them than an employed person. For many conventional lenders the problem with lending to the self employed person is documenting an applicant’s income. Applicants with jobs can provide lenders with pay stubs, and lenders can verify the information through their employer. In the absence of such verifiable employment records, lenders rely on income tax returns, which they typically require for 2 years.
Lenders expect borrowers to come up with sufficient cash for the down payment and other fees payable by the borrower at the time of funding the loan. Generally, down payment requirements are made with funds the borrowers have saved. If a borrower does not have the required down payment they may receive “gift funds” from an acceptable donor with a signed letter stating that the gifted funds do not have to be paid back.
Home loans come in many shapes and sizes. Deciding which loan makes the most sense for your financial situation and goals means understanding the benefits of each. Whether you are buying a home or refinancing, there are 2 basic types of home loans. Each has different reasons you’d choose them.
Fixed rate mortgages usually have terms lasting 15 or 30 years. Throughout those years, the interest rate and monthly payments remain the same. You would select this type of loan when you:
Adjustable Rate Mortgages (often called ARMs) typically last for 15 or 30 years, just like fixed rate mortgages. But during those years, the interest rate on the loan may go up or down. Monthly payments increase or decrease. You would select this type of loan when you:
By carefully considering the above factors and seeking our professional advice, you should be able to select the one loan that matches your present condition as well as your future financial goals.
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Although lenders conform to standards set by government agencies, loan approval guidelines vary depending on the terms of each loan. In general, approval is based on two factors: your ability and willingness to repay the loan and the value of the property.
Once your loan application has been received we will start the loan approval process immediately. Your loan processor will verify all of the information you have given. If any discrepancies are found, either the processor or your loan officer will troubleshoot to straighten them out. This information includes:
Is your income sufficient to cover monthly payments? Industry guidelines are used to evaluate your income and your debts.
What is your ability to repay debts when due? Your credit report is reviewed to determine the type and terms of previous loans. Any lapses or delays in payment are considered and must be explained.
Do you have the funds necessary to make the down payment and pay closing costs?
Is there sufficient value in the property? The property is appraised to determine market value. Location and zoning play a part in the evaluation.
In some cases, additional documentation might be required before making a final determination regarding your loan approval.
After your loan is approved, you are ready to sign the final loan documents. You must review the documents prior to signing and make sure that the interest rate and loan terms are what you were promised. Also, verify that the name and address on the loan documents are accurate. The signing normally takes place in front of a notary public.
There are also several fees associated with obtaining a mortgage and transferring property ownership which you will be expected to pay at closing. Bring a cashiers check for the down payment and closing costs if required. Personal checks are normally not accepted. You also will need to show your homeowner’s insurance policy, and any other requirements such as flood insurance, plus proof of payment.
Your loan will normally close shortly after you have signed the loan documents. On owner occupied refinance loan transactions federal law requires that you have 3 days to review the documents before your loan transaction can close.
Refinancing is the process of obtaining a new mortgage in an effort to reduce monthly payments, lower your interest rates, take cash out of your home, or change mortgage companies. Determining your eligibility for refinancing is similar to the approval process that you went through with your first mortgage.
Contact us for a free Home Refinancing Review to learn about your best options.
It’s generally a good time to refinance when mortgage rates are 2% lower than the current rate on your loan. It may be a viable option even if the interest rate difference is only 1% or less. Any reduction can trim your monthly mortgage payments. Example: Your payment, excluding taxes and insurance, would be about $770 on a $100,000 loan at 8.5%; if the rate were lowered to 7.5%, your payment would then be $700, now you’re saving $70 per month. Your savings depends on your income, budget, loan amount, and interest rate changes. Your trusted lender can help you calculate your options.
Most lenders charge fees to refinance a loan. So, if you plan to only stay in the property for a couple of years, your monthly savings may not accumulate to recoup these costs. Example: A lender charged $1,000 to refinance your loan that resulted in saving you $50 each month; it would take 20-months to recoup your initial costs. Some lenders will charge a slightly higher than average interest rate on refinance loans, but will waive all costs associated with the loan. This will depend on the interest rate on your current loan.
Starting with an application fee for $250 – $350, you may need to pay an origination fee typically 1% of your loan amount. In most cases you will pay the same costs you had with your current home loan for the title search, title insurance, lender fees, etc. The total sum could cost up to 2-3% of the loan amount. If you don’t have the funds to pay for associated loan costs, you can search for lenders that offer “no-cost” loans which will charge a slightly higher interest rate.
A point is a percentage of the loan amount, or 1-point = 1% of the loan, so one point on a $100,000 loan is $1,000. Points are costs that need to be paid to a lender to get mortgage financing under specified terms. Discount points are fees used to lower the interest rate on a mortgage loan by paying some of this interest up-front. Lenders may refer to costs in terms of basic points in hundredths of a percent, 100 basis points = 1 point, or 1% of the loan amount.
Yes, if you plan to stay in the property for a least a few years. Paying discount points to lower the loan’s interest rate is a good way to lower your required monthly loan payment, and possibly increase the loan amount that you can afford to borrow. However, if you plan to stay in the property for only a year or two, your monthly savings may not be enough to recoup the cost of the discount points that you paid up-front.
Mortgage rates can change from the day you apply for a loan to the day you close the transaction. If interest rates rise sharply during the application process it can increase the borrower’s mortgage payment unexpectedly. Therefore, a lender can allow the borrower to “lock-in” the loan’s interest rate guaranteeing that rate for a specified time period, often 30-60 days, sometimes for a fee.
It’s unsure how interest rates will move at any given time, but your lender may estimate where interest rates are headed. If interest rates are expected to be volatile in the near future, considering locking your interest rate may be good because it allows you to qualify for the loan. Or, if your budget could handle a higher loan payment, or lender’s lock fees, you may want to let interest rates “float” until the loan closing.
Even with poor credit getting a home loan is still possible. A lender will consider you to be a risky borrower and to compensate for this they will charge you a higher interest rate, and expect a higher down payment usually 20%-50%. The worse your credit history is, the more you can expect to pay.
Not necessarily, if you’ve been late with your payments less than 3-times in the past year, and the payments were no more than 30-days late, you still have a good change at getting a competitive interest rate. Most lenders will accept certain reasons for this like an illness, or job-change, but explanations are required.
When doing your comparison shopping for lenders consider that lenders can structure financing in many ways:
There are two important things to consider when choosing one lender over another one: