Posts Tagged: ‘Saving Money’

Removing Mortgage Insurance

July 29, 2014 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

If you secured a home loan with less than a 20 percent down payment, chances are your lender required you to purchase mortgage insurance (MI) to cover its exposure in case you default.

Once your equity position in the home reaches 20 percent however, you can in some cases, petition the lender to remove the MI. If you have an FHA-insured loan, premium payments to the government are required for a minimum of 5 years and the loan balance must be lower than 78% based on the original sales price of the property. FHA loans after June of 2013 are required to have MI for the life of the loan barring some limited exceptions.

Know your rights
By law, your lender must tell you at closing how many years and months it will take you to pay down your loan sufficiently to cancel the MI.

Most home buyers ask that MI be canceled once they pay their loan balance down to 80 percent of the home’s original appraised value. When the balance drop to 78 percent, their mortgage servicer is required to cancel mortgage insurance for them. Mortgage servicers also must give borrowers an annual statement that shows who to call for information about canceling MI.

The law does allow lenders to require MI of a high-risk borrower until the balance shrinks to 50 percent of the home’s value. You may fall into this high-risk category if you have missed mortgage payments, so make sure your payments are up to date before asking your lender to drop the MI. Lenders may require a higher equity percentage if the property has been converted to rental use.

With equity of 20 percent or greater, you have a good case to rid yourself of mortgage insurance. If you can’t persuade your lender to drop the MI, consider refinancing. If your home value has increased enough, the new lender won’t require MI. Make sure, however, that your refinance costs don’t exceed the money you save by eliminating MI.
Here are steps you can take to get out from under mortgage insurance even sooner or strengthen your negotiating position:
•Get a new appraisal: Some lenders will consider a new appraisal instead of the original sales price or appraised value when deciding if you meet the 20 percent equity threshold. The cost of an appraisal generally runs from $300 to $500.
•Prepay on your loan: Even $50 a month can mean a dramatic drop in your loan balance over time.
•Remodel: Add a room or a pool to increase your home’s market value. Then ask the lender to recalculate your loan-to-value ratio using the new value figure.

I would be happy to help review your options.

Real Estate Time Bomb

January 30, 2014 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

If you regularly read financial periodicals, you will come across articles from financial experts on doomsday scenarios. Many times they are motivational pieces focused on selling you something to “protect” you against the awaiting catastrophe; other times it is a true warning by an expert that sees something very disturbing. The Dotcom Bust, the Asian Currency Crisis and even our 2008 Real Estate Bubble all had warning signs and experts who correctly predicted the financial disaster.  Today’s popular pending Armageddons are the Student Loan Bubble, the T-Bill Bubble and in the real estate sector a warning about Equity Lines of Credit (ELOC).

If you were a homeowner in 2004 – 2008 you were receiving multiple free offers for ELOC with low payments and teaser rates. Many homeowners took advantage of those freebies and started using their home equity like credit cards to buy everything from automobiles to vacations. In hindsight these mortgage instruments have been pretty good deals. Historic low-interest rates over the last 5 years and the tax benefits associated with the ELOCs have made this a very cheap method to finance any purchase.

Unfortunately, most homeowners do not understand the mechanics of their ELOC. Many times the promissory note they signed ten years ago was never read, explained or maybe just forgotten.  A quick explanation of how an ELOC works will help you understand the time bomb lurking in the shadows.

98% of all ELOC have a 10 year draw period. During this time you can use your line like a credit card to buy goods and services. After the 10th year starts the 20 year repayment period begins (a few ELOCs have 15 year repayment periods).  All ELOC have an index and most are based on the prime rate (currently 3.25%). Lenders use an index to make sure that they receive an interest rate that is commensurate with current market conditions. To the index rate the lender adds a margin (the Bank’s profit) usually 0.0% to as high as 3.0% or more. Check your Promissory Note or with your servicer to find your margin. Every month the lender adds the index rate to the margin and divides by 12. This is the monthly rate you are charged on your outstanding balance. These loans do not contain any sort of periodic cap to protect you from quick interest rate increases month over month. A lifetime interest rate cap of 18% is standard.

So where is the potential powder keg? As the 10 year draw and interest only periods are coming to close, borrowers will get notices of their mortgage payments increasing as their ELOC change to  fully amortizing loans. The amount could be startling for some homeowners! For example, an $85,000 balance, which is pretty typical of what I see on my customer’s loan applications, at a current rate of 4.25% (3.25% Prime Rate plus a 1.0% margin) has an interest only payment of $301.04 this would go to $526.35 on a 20 year repayment. But that’s not the whole story! Understand that we are at historically low rates. In the past the Prime Rate has been above 8% seven times since 1970 and at 8.25% as recently as September of 2007. So let me run those numbers on a balance of $85,000: Current payment interest only $301.04, new payment with rates at 9.25% (Prime Rate 8.25% plus a 1.0% margin) would be $778.49 for a 20 year repayment. If your ELOC has a 15 repayment your new payment would be $874.82. That is a payment increase of $573.77 or 191%

Please do not misconstrue that I am predicting an 8.25% prime rate anytime soon, but recognize that homeowners who have ELOC s with larger balances need to be aware of potential payment increases and how it could affect them.

If I can help you figure out how your ELOC will adjust and the steps you can take to minimize the impact please call me at my office. 310 540 1330.

How does your credit score measure up?

December 13, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

Every once in a while I will get a customer that wants to know how his score compares to the average person. So I did a little research and was surprised to find out that credit scores were not dispersed as I had thought.

Your credit score is a numerical reflection of the quality of your credit based on statistical logarithms developed by some brainiac math geniuses that will not release the exact formula they use. But the generalities break down like this:

Payment history, length of credit history, recent inquiries, number of accounts and used credit vs available credit. For more on how credit scores are generated and how you can raise your score see How a credit score is figured

Back to credit score averages. Statistically, I was expecting to find a bell-shaped curve where the majority of people are in the middle and that either end of the spectrum (lowest and highest scores) would have less people. Apparently credit quality is fairly even across the board. See the chart below to see how you compare.

Its important that you know your credit score and that it accurately reflects your credit history as generally speaking the higher the credit score, the more likely you are to be offered better credit terms.

If I can be of any assistance in educating you about your credit score in preparation of buying your home, please call me.

 

 

Anatomy Of Your Credit Score

November 23, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

A Credit Score is a number that ranks a consumer’s credit risk based on a statistical evaluation of information in the consumer’s credit file. In layman’s terms, it’s a number that represents the risk that you will default on a loan, using your prior payment history and other factors as a benchmark. Statistically speaking, the higher your credit score number the less likely the lender will experience delinquencies or a default on your account. Different industries use different credit score products. For instance mortgage lenders rely on FICO or the Fair Issac Credit Company score to determine your credit risk level for home loans. A car dealer and a credit card company may rely on different credit score products. Each mathematical algorithm used to calculate credit scores is unique and extremely complex, so the information below is a simple explanation of how a FICO credit score works.

A FICO score is based on five different weighted factors as presented in the pie chart below:

The most common question I hear about a borrower’s credit score, is how to quickly increase the borrower’s representative score, so that we can get the borrower approved for a home loan. Sometimes we can also quickly improve a score to get a client a better rate and fee combination. The basics for increasing your credit score are all related to the weighted factors in the chart above and have to do with:

  • Correcting any delinquent payment histories that are incorrect.
  • Paying off account balances.
  • Rearranging account balances.

We have tools available by which we can create a plan that actually allows us to try different credit scenario fixes and measure the resulting credit score improvements. This new tool has already saved many of our clients time, money and frustration and is not available through your standard mortgage conduits. If you are looking to purchase a home in the next six months I would highly recommend a free credit consultation to make sure you have the best possible chance of getting the lowest interest rates on your mortgage.

Finally, when dealing with credit score issues it’s best to get help from someone who understands how credit scores are figured.  Attempting to raise your credit score yourself could be counterproductive as simple mistakes made during the process can actually decrease your credit scores delaying or making your home loan more expensive.  Please call me if I can help you.

Little Known Mortgage Underwriting Guideline Exception

August 1, 2013 Posted by Andre Hemmersbach

Over the last several years the news about lending and lending guidelines has for the most part been pretty negative so when there is something positive to highlight it makes my job a bit easier.

One of Fannie Mae’s (FNMA, the government institution that buys almost all the fixed rate mortgages made today) little known rules that could help certain individuals is how they look at borrowers who are purchasing, refinancing or doing a cash-out refinance for and elderly parent or disabled child.

If the elderly parent, or in the case of a disabled adult child, is unable to work or does not have sufficient income to qualify for a mortgage on his or her own FNMA will allow the borrower of the elderly parent or disabled child to purchase or refinance the home as the owner occupant at the owner occupant rates, loan to values and guidlelines even if they are not going to occupy the property.

There would be several additional documentation requirements but as a whole it pretty simple. More astonishing than the fact that FNMA allows this as an exception is that not all lenders follow the rule or even know about it.

If i can be a resource to you on any real estate matters please call me.