Looking to Pay Back Your Mortgage Faster? Three Reasons to Consider Switching to Bi-weekly Payments

Looking to Pay Back Your Mortgage Faster? Three Reasons to Consider Switching to Bi-weekly PaymentsWhile there are differing schools of thought when it comes to whether or not a person should pay off a mortgage before the loan term ends, there may be some benefits to making payments on a bi-weekly basis as opposed to monthly basis. What are some of the reasons why it may be beneficial to make two payments a month instead of one? Here are three reasons why you should ditch the monthly fees and make payments once every two weeks.

You’ll Make An Extra Payment Per Year

If you’re looking to pay off your mortgage ahead of schedule, making bi-weekly payments means you’ll make an extra payment every year. Instead of making 12 large payments every year, you’ll make 26 small payments. These 26 small payments would be equal to about 13 large payments.

This is the equivalent of an extra payment per year and 10 extra payments over 10 years. If you have a 30-year mortgage, you could pay it off between two and three years early because you will make your last payment 30 months ahead of schedule.

You’ll Provide Yourself With Financial Flexibility

Making extra payments can provide you with financial flexibility that makes it easier to deal with unexpected expenses or a job loss. As you are making a half-payment every two week, you can make your payments in smaller, more manageable chunks.

It may be a good thing if you are self-employed and may not be sure when a client will pay for services rendered. Additionally, you may have your next payment reduced or advanced if you pay more than you owe in a given month.

You’ll Reduce the Amount of Interest Paid on the Loan

Paying off your mortgage faster reduces the amount of interest that you pay on the loan. Even if you only make one extra payment per year, you could still save thousands of dollars in interest by paying your loan several months or years early.

To determine exactly how much you will save, you can use an amortization table or calculator to see how much interest you pay over the full 30 years as opposed to taking only 27 or 28 years to pay for your home. It is also important to note that making extra payments adds to the equity that you have in the home.

Making two payments instead of one each month may help you achieve financial flexibility while building equity in your home. By paying off your mortgage as soon as possible, it may enable you to put more money into a savings or retirement account. Contact a mortgage professional for more information about whether bi-weekly payments are right for you.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 15, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 15 2014Last week’s housing related economic reports were slim, but an unexpected increase in weekly jobless claims gained attention. Analysts calmed concerns by noting that last week’s reading of 315,000 new jobless claims was not far removed from jobless claim levels before the recession. Expectations for last week’s reading were for 301,000 new jobless claims based on the previous week’s original reading of 302,000. The previous week’s reading was revised to 304,000 new jobless claims.

Jobless Claims: 4-Week Average for Continuing Claims Hits Lowest Level Since 2007

Prospective home buyers and current homeowners typically consider their jobs and employment prospects before seeking a home purchase mortgage or refinancing their existing home loans. Last week’s readings released by the Department of Labor suggest that while weekly jobless claims increased, overall trends in hiring and continuing jobless claims indicate a stronger labor sector.

The four-week average of new jobless claims rose from 303,250 to 304,000. The four-week average is typically less volatile than week-to-week readings. Continuing jobless claims increased by 9,000 to 2.49 million for the week ended August 30. The four-week average for continuing jobless claims fell by 15,500 claims to 2.50 million continuing jobless claims. This was the lowest reading for continuing jobless claims since 2007.

In other labor related news, job openings were nearly steady at 4.67 million in July against June’s reading of 4.68 million new job openings. The Labor Department reported that job openings increased by 22 percent year-over-year, with private sector jobs rising to 4.19 million job openings and government jobs increasing by 101,000 job openings to 485,000 in July. The number of hires in July rose from June’s reading of 4.79 million to 4.87 million in July. This was the highest number of hires since 2007. Pre-recession hiring levels were approximately 5 million; this suggests that U.S. labor trends are approaching pre-recession levels.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Discount Points Unchanged

Freddie Mac reported higher mortgage rates on Thursday, with average discount points unchanged at 0.50 across the board. Average rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose from 4.10 percent to 4.12 percent; the average rate for a 15-year mortgage was two basis points higher at 3.26 percent and the average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose to 2.99 percent from the prior week’s average of 2.97 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled news includes several reports related to housing. In addition to Freddie Mac’s usual mortgage rates report, The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) will release its Housing Market Index and the Department of Commerce will release data on housing starts in August. General economic reports include the Consumer Price Index, Core Consumer Price Index, and Leading Economic Indicators.

The Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve will release its post-meeting statement on Wednesday, and Fed Chair Janet Yellen is also expected to give a press conference. The Federal Reserve may provide further indication of its intention concerning the target federal funds rate, which is currently at 0.00 to 0.250 percent. The Fed may address its intentions concerning the federal funds rate, but the FOMC has been consistently vague about details concerning its economic strategy.

It’s Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable Space

It's Not Just Car Storage: How to Transform Your Garage into a Brand New, Highly Usable SpaceIn some homes, garages are used only for car storage. They may appear to be bare and without real functional use for homeowners. However, other garages may be an envy of the neighborhood – they may have floor to ceiling shelving systems, and they may be the picture-perfect image of organization.

With a bit of planning and creativity, you can turn your garage into a much more functional space. Here’s how you can make your garage the most useful space in the house.

Determine What You Need To Store

One of the most important steps to take when improving the functionality of your garage is to determine which items you need to store. The last thing you want is to invest in a shelving system or cabinets for your garage only to later realize that your belongings do not fit in the features you have purchased. Take an inventory of the items you want to put in the space as well as their sizes and dimensions, and then take stock of the space available to store these items.

Invest In Storage Features

There are numerous types of storage features that you may choose to invest in for your garage, such as cabinets, drawers, wall pegs, shelves, overhead storage features, and bins.

The best storage features for your garage are those that take into account your accessibility needs. For example, seasonal items that you may rarely need access to may be placed in overhead storage features that hang over the cars. On the other hand, screwdrivers and other tools that you may need to use more frequently should be placed in a more accessible area.

Consider The Look Of The Garage

Some homeowners truly do not care what their garage looks like, but you should keep in mind that this is a room that is revealed to the outside world each time your garage doors are raised. This can indeed affect curb appeal and others’ impressions of you. Therefore, think about investing in a full garage storage system rather than piecing together different items.

If your garage looks like a war zone, you are wasting valuable storage space and compromising your property value. Investing in aesthetically pleasing and highly functional storage solutions can turn your garage into a major selling point and a great multi-use space.

FICO Scores and Your Mortgage: How to Bump Your FICO Score to Secure a Better Mortgage Rate

FICO Scores and Your Mortgage: How to Bump Your FICO Score to Secure a Better Mortgage RateIs your credit score holding you back from getting the best rate on your next mortgage? The good news is that there are actions that you can take to increase your credit score and improve the interest rate offered on your next home loan.

Here are a few easy and effective tips to help you get your credit score to where you want it to be.

Increase The Amount Of Credit Available To You

The easiest way to increase your credit score is to increase your credit limit, as this reduces your utilization ratio. To do this, you can either apply for another credit card or ask a current credit card provider to increase your credit limit. Those who have a stable income and have made their monthly payments on time should have no problem getting an increase of their credit limit.

Pay Down The Balances On Your Credit Card

Paying down your credit card balances can help you increase your credit score, as a large portion of your score is determined by the percent of available credit that you are using. Ideally, you want each card balance to be under 30 percent of the total limit while also keeping your total credit usage to less than 30 percent of available credit. A utilization ratio under 30 percent tells lenders that you can manage credit responsibly.

Settle Past Due Debts

Roughly one-third of your credit score is determined by your ability to make payments in a timely manner. If you have any payments that are 30 or more days past due, you may wish to settle those debts or make arrangements to pay them.

Creditors who allow you to roll past due payments back into your loan may update your credit report to say that you are current on your payments. This could have a huge impact on your credit score and help you qualify for a better rate on a home loan.

Increasing your credit score is one of the best ways to get the best rate on a mortgage. This may enable you to gain additional leverage when negotiating for a better rate that may lower your monthly payment to a more affordable level.

For more information about how to get a great mortgage rate for your next home purchase, or for advice on how to improve your credit score, contact your local mortgage professional today.

FHA Home Loans: How to Pre-apply and Get Approved Before Making a Home Purchase Commitment

FHA Home Loans: How to Pre-apply and Get Approved Before Making a Home Purchase CommitmentIf you’re in the market for your first mortgage, the Federal Housing Administration may be able to help you. Thanks to the FHA home loan program, you can apply for loan approval before you’ve found a home that you want to buy – which means you know what you can afford before you start your house hunt. Here’s what you need to know about FHA home loans and how they can help you find the perfect house.

Pre-Approval: Assessment Includes Employment History and a Credit Check

The pre-approval process can be done over the phone or online in a matter of minutes. All you need to do is find a lender or mortgage broker in your area and start the application process. You’ll be asked a series of questions and you’ll need to meet several criteria, such as a history of steady employment and consistent income, a credit report in good standing, and a desired mortgage payment of 30 percent of total monthly gross income.

The Variables of the Loan May Change Depending on Your Needs

When the representative for the broker or lender contacts you, he or she may overestimate your property taxes and will assume that you are going to borrow the maximum amount for which you qualify. Therefore, the monthly payment that you are quoted may be higher than the amount that you would pay each month when you actually purchase your home. Based on the property taxes, your down payment and the purchase price of the home, your payment may be higher or lower at closing.

You Will Get a Letter Stating That You Have Conditional Approval

If all goes well, the lender or broker who assessed you will send a letter confirming that you are conditionally approved for an FHA home loan. You may wish to submit this letter with any offer that you make to purchase a house, as without conditional loan approval, a seller may not take your offer seriously. If you are in a bidding war for a home, it may not be possible to win unless you show that you have financing available to close on the property in a reasonable amount of time.

The first step to get a mortgage is to get conditional loan approval. By calling your lender or a broker, it may be possible to obtain pre-approval for the mortgage you need while also negotiating favorable terms. For more information about qualifying for FHA loans, contact your local mortgage professional today.

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don’t Forget These Three Important Considerations

Buying Land to Build a New Home On? Don't Forget These Three Important ConsiderationsWhen most people talk about real estate, they envision buying an already-built house on already-landscaped property. However, buying vacant land and building a new home is a great way to ensure that you get the home that you want in the location that you want. It’s also a major undertaking, which is why you should take these three considerations into account before you buy any land for your new home.

Location, Location, Location: It’s More Important Than You Think

People often hear the phrase “location, location, location” and it’s a very prudent maxim with buying land. The parcel of land that you buy should be in a good geographic location and on stable ground – which means there shouldn’t be any major water sources nearby (like a swamp) and hills should be minimal. You’ll also want to consider zoning regulations that influence the acreage and other regulations that influence how you can and cannot use the land.

Utility Connections Will Be Your Responsibility

New land tends to not have utilities laid out under or over the ground. If this is the case, you will need to invest in electrical, water, and possibly heat utilities for the home.

This process involves communicating between the municipal government and utility companies so that the proper infrastructure is put in place. These costs and the implementation can be quite a headache depending on how isolated the land is from municipal or regional infrastructure.

Access: Look Up Any Easements on the Land

Many homeowners may not realize how legal access to land can affect their purchase. An easement refers to the legal right of other entities to use your land even though they do not own it. Before you buy land, you and your lawyer should investigate whether or not the land has easements, and whether or not these easements may interfere with your goals for the property.

These are just a few of the major considerations you need to make when you buy land. Purchasing a plot of land is quite a bit more complicated than buying a house, and if you’re not prepared, it can easily turn into a nightmare. When properly planned, though, buying land can give you a great backdrop on which to build the house of your dreams.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – Sept 8, 2014

Whats Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week Sept 8 2014Last week’s housing-related economic news was slim, likely due to the Labor Day holiday Monday. On Tuesday, the U.S. Commerce Department reported that construction spending for July increased by 1.80 percent as compared to June’s revised reading of 1.0 percent and expectations of a 1.0 percent increase for July.

The Federal Reserve released its Beige Book report Wednesday; the collection of anecdotes from business contacts within the 12 Federal Reserve districts indicated that the general economy was strengthening as well as labor markets. The Fed noted a shortage of skilled workers. New construction and home sales grew modestly, but the Fed reported that fewer than half of the districts reported growth in real estate activity.

This information appears to be consistent with recent media reports of falling home sales, mortgage originations and demand for homes. Analysts say that mortgage lenders remain wary of loosening mortgage credit standards without protection from having to repurchase faulty mortgages from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Mortgage Rates Saw Little Change

Freddie Mac reported that average mortgage rates and discount points saw little change last week. The average rates for a 30-year mortgage and a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage were unchanged at 4.10 percent and 2.97 percent respectively. Discount points were also unchanged at 0.40 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage fell by one basis point to 3.24 percent with discount points also lower at 0.50 percent.

Non-Farm Payrolls Add 142,000 Jobs, Unemployment Rate Unchanged 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics Reported that 142,000 new jobs were added in August. Analysts had expected 228,000 new jobs added, but many analysts said that the abrupt decline in jobs added was a fluke. A couple of short-term incidents impacted retail and automotive sectors as a supermarket chain cut hours and fewer July layoffs in the automotive sector led to fewer workers called back in August. The unemployment rate remained at 6.10 percent.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 302,000 against expectations of 300,000 new jobless claims and 298,000 new jobless claims in the prior week.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news is also light on housing and mortgage reports. Retail spending, consumer credit, and federal budget data are some of the reports set for release.

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate ‘Short Sale’ and How This Process Works

You Ask, We Answer: Understanding the Real Estate 'Short Sale' and How This Process WorksA short sale is something that occurs when a homeowner is not able to make the mortgage payments on time due to a financial hardship. Instead of foreclosing on the property after one or more missed payments, the bank may agree to allow the homeowner to turn the home over to the bank, which will sell it to as close to market value as possible.

Here’s what you need to know about how short sales work and what circumstances might call for one.

Step 1: The Homeowner Provides Information To The Bank

The first step in the short sale process is for the homeowner to submit an information package to the bank. The homeowner will provide information such as the reason for the short sale, an authorization letter allowing the real estate agent to talk to the bank, and a financial statement. In addition, the seller may need to provide an HUD-1 statement as well as a list of comparable homes in the area.

Step 2: The Buyer Makes An Offer

Once the house is put on the market, a buyer can make an offer just as he or she would on any other home. The seller will then have the opportunity to accept any offer that he or she receives from a prospective buyer.

Step 3: The Bank Makes A Decision About The Offer

Once the seller accepts an offer to buy the home on short sale, the seller is responsible for sending information about the sale to the bank. Before the sale is finalized, the bank must approve the buyer’s offer. It could take as little as two weeks or as long as 120 days for the bank to approve the offer.

However, not all short sales are immediately approved. The seller’s bank bank might decline the buyer’s offer for one reason or another. A bank may decline a short sale offer if the bank negotiator thinks the house is worth more than the buyer’s offer or if the seller violates a clause in the short sale agreement – such as moving out of the property and violating a clause that states only owner-occupied properties are eligible for short sale.

Buying a home that is being sold as a short sale requires patience and an ability to move at the bank’s pace. Working closely with an experienced lender or mortgage broker may make it easier to get through the process without a lot of hassle or drama. 

Children Leaving the Nest? 3 Pieces of Sage Advice You Can Share About How to Manage a Mortgage

Children Leaving the Nest? 3 Pieces of Sage Advice You Can Share About How to Manage a MortgageWhen your children are about to step out into the world on their own, you want to help them on their way. This especially holds true when it comes to buying a house. As your sons or daughters prepare to take the plunge into home ownership, make sure they follow three crucial tips that will help them during the mortgage process.

Don’t Bite Off More Than You Can Chew

One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make is choosing a home that is beyond their price range. Your children need to remember that they are going to be paying for their home for a long time. A crushing house payment could be difficult to manage.

In order to find a reasonable mortgage, you need to look at the numbers. The bank, or mortgage lender, will generally look at a client’s income, debt, and the current mortgage rate to determine an acceptable amount when purchasing a home. Your children can look at their own budget, lay out all of their costs, and determine how much spending room is left for a house payment.

Choose A Shorter Term For A Mortgage

When the time comes to sign the dotted line, the mortgage lender will offer various payment terms for your child’s home loan. Twenty-five to thirty years is the typical term for most mortgages, but the sooner the mortgage is paid, the better. Advise your children to choose the shortest possible term while still living within their means.

Make Extra Payments When Possible

Your children can pay their mortgage off sooner by making extra payments. While this may seem like a challenge, it can be accomplished with careful budgeting.

Making one extra payment a year will shorten the length of the loan and put more equity into the home. Whether your children plan on staying put or want to buy another home down the line, they’ll appreciate it when they have paid off a considerable chunk of their mortgage.

Getting a mortgage is a rite of passage and a milestone that thousands of Americans encounter every year. Make sure that your children get the best mortgage available by following these tips. For more helpful information, or to make sure your children are getting a good deal, contact a trusted mortgage professional today.

Applying for a Mortgage? Three Questions Your Lender Will Ask You – and How to Prepare Your Answers

Applying for a Mortgage? Three Questions Your Lender Will Ask You - and How to Prepare Your AnswersBefore approving a mortgage, your lender is going to have to do his due diligence to ensure that you can afford a loan large enough to pay for a house. That means your lender will be asking you several questions about whether or not you can afford a mortgage.

Here’s how you can prepare to answer these questions in a way that will increase your likelihood of approval.

How Stable Is Your Income?

Your lender is going to want to know that your income is going to be stable over the life of the loan. This means that you should be able to document steady employment, that investment income is going to be stable or that the alimony that you receive from your former spouse will continue to come in for the foreseeable future. To document your income, you can provide bank statements, pay stubs or tax returns from the previous three years.

How Much Do You Have In The Bank?

A lender is going to be interested in how much you have in reserve in case you lost your job or suffer an unexpected medical expense that could make it harder to pay your mortgage. For a conventional mortgage, you may be required to have three to six months’ worth of expenses in the bank or in other assets that you could liquidate. To show how much you have in the bank, you can provide bank statements or balance statements from any other account where you may get money from if need be.

Where Is The Money For The Down Payment And Closing Costs Coming From?

While some lenders don’t mind if the money is gifted from a qualified source such as a family member, friend or employer, other lenders will require that the money for a down payment or other costs comes straight from your own bank account. To prove where the funds are coming from, you will need to show when the money was deposited into your bank account if using your own funds (or a gift letter if the funds are being gifted).

A mortgage lender needs to be sure that you are able to repay any loan that you are approved for. That means you’ll want to present your lender with solid, documented proof that you have a steady income and ample cash reserves to pay the mortgage and associated fees. For more information about what lenders look for in mortgage applicants, contact a qualified mortgage professional today.