BASIC TIPS for GETTING a MORTGAGE
A home purchase can seem like a daunting task, so it’s important to take it step by step and know that help is out there to streamline the process. Sure, you might have been saving money for years, but what else can you do to help fulfill your dream of owning a home? It starts by applying for a mortgage. Mortgages are designed to help individuals and families purchase a house when they otherwise might not have been able to.
Prepare to apply. In order to apply for a mortgage, you will want to do your homework first. This means knowing exactly where you stand financially. Assess your household budget and savings, seeing just how much you can afford to spend on a down payment. From there, you want to request your credit report. This will have a significant impact on what the interest rate will be on your home loan and whether or not you qualify for a purchase at all. Your credit score shows a lender essentially how trustworthy you are. While a poor credit score will hurt your chances of obtaining a low rate, don’t let it completely discourage you. There are ways to purchase a home even with a less-than perfect score and ways to raise your score.
Get pre-qualified. Once you know you want to purchase a home, you will want to consider getting pre-qualified for a mortgage immediately. This can help speed up the process, not to mention help you avoid potential headaches down the road. For example, you might have found the home of your dreams, but getting approved for a mortgage could take some time, something that could cost you an opportunity at purchasing. A pre-qualification will last 90 days, ensuring you are all set when you finally decide to pull the trigger on a purchase.
Finding a home. After you’re pre qualified for a loan, you’ll know how much you can afford. Now you can begin searching for the home of your dreams, without having to worry about whether you’ll actually be able to make a purchase.
Final loan approval. You will receive final approval for a home loan if you have a good credit score and debt-toincome ratio. Keep in mind that approval could depend on certain financial or property conditions that need to be met first.
Do you know what questions to ask when you are shopping for a mortgage?
When shopping for a mortgage, you will find that most lenders’ loan products will be pretty close to each other in rates and fees. But rates mean nothing if your loan is not approved or can’t close on time! Today, with new strict lending guidelines, you really need to work with a lender who can get your loan approved and closed quickly and efficiently. How do you find such a lender? Here are some questions to ask:
1. Are you lending your own money? As a direct lender, Academy Mortgage controls the process from application through closing and funding. We lend our own money, so we make the decision to lend.
2. How many people will be involved in the loan process? At Academy, it’s the loan officer, processor, and underwriter. That’s it. You will always know what is happening with your loan.
3. Who will do the appraisal and how will it be assigned? Academy uses experienced, local appraisers whom we assign on a rotational basis. Many other lenders use third-party appraisal management companies that put the appraisal out to bid; in such cases, the appraiser with the lowest bid, regardless of experience or local knowledge, often gets the assignment.
4. How fast can you close? Because we are a direct lender, Academy can adjust priorities if necessary. This is particularly important when purchasing short sales where the time frame to close is short after the servicer of the existing loan agrees to the short sale.
5. Can your loan officers work directly with the underwriters? Academy’s loan officers work with in-house underwriters who answer questions, resolve issues, and understand that every loan has individual characteristics that DESERVE PERSONAL ATTENTION.
6. Who prepares the closing package and arranges funding? Academy has closers in our branches who make sure your loan closes on time and without surprises. Many other lenders have centralized closing departments that are unfamiliar with the file and have multiple conflicting priorities with getting packages out.
7. How many days in advance do you typically have the package to the settlement attorney? Academy strives to get packages out at least 48 hours prior to closing. Many other lenders end up sending packages at the last minute, which leads to a lot of stress. Settlement attorneys LOVE Academy because we make their jobs easy. They have a single point of contact (the closer) to get the package and resolve any last minute issues.
Today, it’s all about execution and accountability. Purchasing a home will likely be the largest financial decision you will ever make, so you need to work with a lender who will put your needs first and get things done fast!
No, you don't need a 20% down payment to buy a house
Lack of inventory has made for a highly competitive housing market this year, which in turn has pushed home prices up.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average home price in February 2017 was $390,400. This compares to $355,300 in January 2017 and $349,400 in February 2016. Rising home prices makes it difficult for homebuyers to make a sizeable down payment and encourages bidding wars that increase the price tag even more.
It's generally said that a 20% down payment is typical or at least wanted by most sellers and real estate agents. According to a recent Redfin survey, 35.7% of real estate agent respondents said a 20% down payment is generally associated with a successful bid on a home.
With the average price at $390,400, a 20% down payment would be $78,080 - more than many homebuyers have saved up. As such, many are forced to make smaller down payments.
However, Redfin's study found that this might not be as big a detriment as one might think. Nearly one-fourth of respondents said down payments of between 3% and 5% seem to have a good chance at success. In fact, there are many ways to seal the deal on a home without putting up your entire life savings.
Make a connection
Many successful bids come from people who have established a connection with the seller. This doesn't mean they're best friends or even that they know each other. One Chicago area agent, Rano Khudayberdieva, told Redfin that writing a cover letter can greatly improve a prospective buyer's chances of getting a bid accepted.
"Writing a cover letter can improve a buyer's chances of getting a bid accepted."
"You'd rather have a committed buyer who put a little less down than a buyer with 20% down who may back out," Khudayberdieva explained.
Another Chicago area agent, Tim Zielonka, said a buyer who bonded with a seller over a common interest was able to beat out his competitors who made larger down-payment offers.
"I recently had an FHA-backed offer with 3.5% down beat out four other offers, each of which had conventional 20% down loans," Zielonka said. "The sellers were at the showing. I introduced them to the buyers and pointed out that both were huge enthusiasts of both vintage bicycles and classic cars, which put them at ease with one another and enabled them to form a natural connection. Had they not discovered this shared interest, my clients may not have gotten the property."
Explore other loan options
A conventional mortgage requires the buyer either make a 20% down payment or purchase private mortgage insurance, which could potentially add thousands to a home loan. There are, however, other loan products that allow for a smaller down payment without a PMI obligation - as long as you qualify.
If you or your spouse has served in the armed forces, you may qualify for a VA loan. These loans offer very low rates, plus don't require a down payment at all, as long as the sales price of the home is less than the appraised value, according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
The Federal Housing Authority has a loan program to encourage first-time homebuyers find a house they can afford while also reducing risks for lenders. Under the FHA program, a buyer can put as little as 3.5% down - as long as their credit score is 580 or higher. But if you've got a not-so-impressive score, don't worry. You can still put as low as 10% down on a home under the FHA program.
In an effort to aid low- and moderate-income families living outside major metropolises obtain adequate housing, the U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a loan program in rural areas. Though it's often called a "rural home loan," it's actually available in the majority of the U.S., though not in very large cities. Like the VA loan, a down payment isn't required for USDA loans.
Seek out down payment assistance
Down payment assistance programs are available to many homebuyers, regardless of whether they've purchased a home before or not. According to research conducted by Urban Institute, these programs have aided in the purchase of many homes across the U.S., largely without risk to the lender or increased fees to the borrower. Every program is different, but many offer to pay a portion of your down payment or closing costs for you.
Though paying PMI can add to the cost of the mortgage, there are situations where purchasing this insurance product is actually your most cost-effective option. For example, if you have an excellent credit score, your lender may give you a generously low PMI rate. Additionally, you'll be able to cancel your PMI once you've paid off 22% of the home price or more. If you know you can reach this goal fairly quickly, it might be worth paying the PMI for a few months and cancelling it as soon as you can.
Coming up with the funds for a down payment is often one of the most difficult hurdles of making a home purchase. Luckily, consumers have myriad options for clearing this obstacle and carrying on with their homebuying journey.