Homebuyer checklist for 2014
Get positioned to buy a home. Those who are considering buying a home in the new year are likely in a good position. Affordability remains historically high, and inventory will be abundant. However, while conditions are ripe for a purchase, there are still a number of things homebuyers will need to do to prepare for what will likely be the largest purchase in their lifetime.
Whether you are experienced or new to the housing market, buying a home probably seems like a daunting task. With so much to consider, it's important to follow a checklist. Here are some tips to get any potential buyer started with the process:
- Request a credit report. One of the first things a potential homebuyer will want to do is get a copy of his or her credit report. Lenders will assess a borrower's credit score for a home loan, so it's important for buyers to know where they stand. A free credit report can be obtained from the three credit reporting companies: Experian, TransUnion and Equifax.
Not only will this show you your credit rating, but it can also allow you to assess your report for mistakes. Finding any errors could mean a credit score is better than it appears, so it's important for it to be thoroughly reviewed.
- Get preapproved for a mortgage. From there, a potential homebuyer will want to get preapproved for a mortgage. This has a number of benefits for borrowers and is something they should do once they decide they'll move ahead with a home purchase. A preapproval can significantly speed up the mortgage process. Whereas a lender could run into hurdles getting a buyer approved once they have found a home, a preapproval will ensure a mortgage application is processed quickly. It also allows the borrower to know where they stand financially, giving them an idea of their price range while they're out searching for a home.
- Be scrupulous in searching for a property. After a preapproval, a borrower is now ready to shop around. As 2014 is expected to be a strong year for home sales, there will likely be a wide variety of inventory to choose from. For any homebuyer, it's important to be thorough when reviewing a home. For example, if they notice water or foundation damage at an open house, it might not be worth the asking price. As always, it's critical to have an unbiased home inspector look at the property. Finding the right help can make all the difference when buying a home.
Academy Mortgage is one of the top independent purchase lenders in the country as ranked in the 2013 CoreLogic Marketrac Report. Visit www.academymortgage.com to find a loan, get a rate, or calculate your payment today.
Choosing a Loan Program
There isn’t a single or simple answer to the question: “Which loan program should I choose?” The right type of mortgage for you depends on many different factors, including:
Your current financial picture.
How you expect your finances to change.
How long you intend to keep your house.
How comfortable you are with your mortgage payment changing.
For example, a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage can save you many thousands of dollars in interest payments over the life of the loan, but your monthly payments will be higher than with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. An adjustable-rate mortgage may get you started with a lower monthly payment than a fixed-rate mortgage, but your payments could greatly increase when the interest rate changes.
The best way to find the “right” answer is to discuss your current finances, your financial prospects, and your preferences frankly with an experienced mortgage professional, and make sure you analyze all of your options. Contact your Academy Mortgage Loan Officer today.
Why Private Mortgage Insurance Is Necessary
Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is a type of insurance that helps protect mortgage companies against losses due to foreclosure. This protection is provided by private mortgage insurance companies and allows mortgage companies to accept lower down payments than would normally be allowed.
PMI also enables mortgage companies to grant loans that would otherwise be considered too risky to be purchased by third-party investors like Fannie Mae (the Federal National Mortgage Association) and Freddie Mac (the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation). The ability to sell loans to these investors is critical to maintaining mortgage market liquidity, which in turn, allows mortgage companies to continue originating new loans.
PMI Payment Options
PMI can typically be paid monthly, or with a single-premium at closing. Premiums are based on the amount and terms of the mortgage and can vary according to the loan-to-value ratio, type of loan, the amount of coverage required by the mortgage company, and the borrower’s credit characteristics and income.
If you choose to pay your PMI premium monthly, the premium will be collected with the regular monthly mortgage payment. If you choose a single-premium plan, the entire premium covering several years is paid in a lump-sum at closing. In the single-premium scenario homebuyers can choose to add the lump sum premium to the loan amount. By doing this, homebuyers can reduce their closing costs and may be able to increase their interest deduction. Note: For tax advice, please consult a tax advisor regarding your specific situation.
PMI can usually be canceled by homebuyers after they have at least 20 percent equity in their home. Borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer to find out the procedure for canceling their PMI when they think they have achieved 20 percent equity. Guidelines for canceling PMI are set by the mortgage servicer. Typically, investors will require an appraisal on the property. The servicer can recommend qualified local appraisers. On primary residences the Homeowners Protection Act requires that PMI be automatically cancelled when the loan is scheduled to reach 78 percent of the original loan-to-value (LTV) or in other words 22 percent equity, based on the original sales price or original appraised value, whichever is lower.
PMI vs. FHA Mortgage Insurance
Although the insurance protection concept is similar, there are differences between PMI and FHA mortgage insurance. FHA mortgage insurance is a government-administered mortgage insurance program that has certain restrictions. FHA mortgage insurance sets maximum regional loan limits that are lower than those with private PMI. FHA mortgage insurance may be more expensive, take longer to receive approval, and have fewer payment plan options. FHA mortgage insurance lasts five years or until the loan is scheduled to reach 78 percent of the original LTV, whichever is longer, unlike PMI, which is cancellable if you make extra payments in most circumstances. FHA mortgage insurance is a good choice for some borrowers with credit history problems or limited down payment or for those who might need special assistance.
Contact your Academy Mortgage Loan Officer about your loan options.