Wednesday, June 04 2014
Homeowners who had been bracing themselves for sharp rises in mortgage interest rates must now be scratching their heads. As the online Mortgage News Daily put it last week, “…rates have been extraordinarily sideways, and right in line with the lowest levels in 11 months.”
Since historical averages are still significantly higher, it’s no wonder that most observers still believe the greater likelihood is for rate increases. But recent Fed happenings show a crack in their avowed determination to let that happen by tapering off purchases of mortgage-backed securities. The hemming and hawing is notable. It’s all pretty much up in the air.
In any case, one thing I can guarantee is that mortgage holders will benefit if they take advantage of savings opportunities when they present themselves. Among current possibilities—
1. Refinance Your Mortgage
Mortgage holders who haven’t already refinanced should at least consider doing so. Refinancing means taking advantage of the still historically low interest rates—often the most meaningful step in reducing your monthly mortgage payments. Before deciding to refinance, make sure that the mortgage costs involved will be less than the resulting savings. If you agree with the prevailing wisdom that it’s unlikely we will see a significant drop in interest rates in the near future, today’s levels still look inviting.
2. Cancel Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI)
According to the National Association of Realtors®, mortgage down payments have fallen over the past decade. Their figures show that the average mortgage down payment in 2013 was 10% – compared with 16% just ten years earlier. Homeowners who put down less than a 20% deposit are typically required to take out Private Mortgage Insurance. But once the Loan-to-value (LTV) ratio falls below 80%, homeowners can ask for the PMI insurance to be removed—and they should, because the lender isn’t responsible for keeping track of that for them. If you are close to the 20% threshold, it may be worthwhile to make a one-time payment that will reduce the principal below 80%.
3. Extend the Length of the Mortgage
Many homeowners have made significant reductions in their principal by opting for shorter-term mortgages. But should rising interest rates make a property you are trying to buy unaffordable, extending the length of the mortgage can reduce monthly payments to a more comfortable level. Although over the long term this will end up costing significantly more in interest, moving from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year can sometimes be the right move—especially when the property at stake represents one of the terrific values currently out there.
While interest rates in Evansville may rise or fall or, as we’ve seen lately, hold surprisingly steady, sudden leaps or plummets are unlikely…and with a little preparation, unpleasant future surprises in interest rates are avoidable. Thinking of buying a home in Evansville this summer? Call me today to start laying the groundwork! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Wednesday, March 13 2013
Your mortgage: you only think about it once a month (if you’re on autopay, maybe not even that often). Why worry about it? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
Like all aspects of your big-picture financial planning, keeping an eye on that mortgage can be an extra wealth-building move. I can point to three reasons why re-evaluating your mortgage could pay dividends:
Down, Down, Down…
Ok, with interest rates continually making headlines, this one might be a no-brainer. But some folks don’t realize just how attainable significant savings may be: a drop of just a single percentage point in themortgage rate can make a gigantic difference. A general rule of thumb is that if you can lower your interest rate by a percent or more, it usually makes sense to refinance. It’s certainly worth looking into.
Pay More Sooner (Build Wealth Quicker)
Nobody wants to part with more hard-earned cash than necessary, but extra money out now can wind up saving a lot of greenbacks later. Making just one extra payment a year will have you owning your home free and clear sooner – whereupon those payment dollars become yours!
Sound too painful? It needn’t. See if you can set up bi-weekly payments of half your monthly mortgage amount. You'll be making 26 payments annually: the equivalent of 13 monthly payments! Confirm with your lender that the extra payments go toward principal.
Eye That Equity
If you’ve got a PMI payment, you know that extra insurance doesn’t come cheap. So why make the extra payment a single month longer than necessary? By law, your lender is required to stop charging you PMI after you accrue 22% equity in your home. But in many cases, once you hit 20% equity, simply writing a letter to your lender will prompt them to allow you to stop paying PMI then and there.
For most of us, our home in Evansville is one of the largest investments we’ll ever make. Got a real estate question? I’m here all the time to supply you with friendly help and advice! You can reach me on my cell phone 812-499-9234 or by email Rolando@RolandoTrentini.com
Monday, October 01 2012
Getting a mortgage refinance has seldom looked more attractive than it does this October. Ads for seemingly ridiculously low teaser rates are popping up all over the place -- and even if the closing costs are hefty (many aren’t), the underlying rates make them all but irresistible.
But do you qualify? Some folks don’t realize that a refi can be just as tough as getting a mortgage in the first place. Or tougher. One client has a stunning property, top credit, and a guaranteed income stream that was more than adequate to fund the refi. She put together all the required paperwork, hosted an inspection (the inspector told her, ‘this is the finest property in the area’), and then waited a week before being told she had failed to qualify. Why? Because her place had a guesthouse -- and that particular loan program was for single dwelling properties only!
The lesson here is that it pays to ask all sorts of questions before actually applying for a specific refinance offer; in other words, kick the tires! Nevertheless, when all is said and done, locking in lower monthly payments can still be worth the trouble.
You will want to present a solid picture -- one that shows that you are financially stable with a good credit rating. Getting any kind of a mortgage is twice as hard if there are significant issues in your credit report or instability in your employment history.
Of course, the basic math has to work, too. The more income you have, the more the lender will be willing to lend. If you are married, you can opt to borrow as a couple so that your joint income is considered. Since the lender will factor in your debt load, subtract your monthly from your income number: if the remainder is healthy, the lender will see that, too.
Lastly (and of key importance), your home will need to appraise for the loan you desire. Although a resurgence in property values seems firmly underway, some neighborhoods have had time to show those rising values, and some not. I can help you get an idea of how the ‘comps’ in your part of town have been faring recently – good to know when you are getting a mortgage or refinancing an existing one.
The bottom line? Getting any type of mortgage in Evansville requires all the usual suspects. Reliability and predictability are really the key here. If you are tempted by today’s record rates to try to refinance, contact a reputable mortgage broker to go over your options. As always, please consider me your local real estate resource – call me if you need an introduction!
You can reach me on my cell phone at 812-499-9234.
Thursday, September 13 2012
Millions of Americans have refinanced their mortgages as rates have dipped to new lows.
However, mortgage lenders say: If home owners had shopped around more, they probably could have snagged an even lower rate and more savings.
Many borrowers settle on the first rate they're quoted, lenders say. LendingTree says that rates can vary by more than a percentage point for a borrower looking for a 30-year fixed loan.
Mortgage Daily illustrates the loss to the customer in the following example: "A consumer with a credit score of 759 and a loan amount of $260,000 might have received quotes from lenders in early August ranging from 3.25 percent to 4.625 percent. By choosing the lowest rate, the borrower would save $214 a month, $2,568 a year, and nearly $74,000 over the life of the loan."
Fewer than half of home owners say they shopped around when refinancing their loan, according to a survey by Harris Interactive of more than 1,000 home owners. On the other hand, 9 in ten American adults say they compare prices when shopping for major purchases.
"Consumers need to be engaged," says Doug Lebda, chief executive of LendingTree. "A lot of them are just happy to have it over with rather than hang in there to get the best deal."
Source: "Mortgage Shoppers Sell Themselves Short," Mortgage Daily (Sept. 10, 2012)
Thursday, June 03 2010
Home equity loan and refinancing scams can cost you more than money—these scams can cost you your house.
Refinancing a mortgage to a lower interest rate can make sense for some homeowners. So too can taking out a home equity loan against the value you’ve built up, perhaps to finance a kitchen remodel or pay Junior’s college tuition. What doesn’t make sense is losing your home because you fall for home equity loan and refinancing scams such as loan flipping and equity stripping. Although scam artists can be very convincing, homeowners who know what to look out for are less likely to become victims.
Loan flipping is a scam targeted at homeowners looking to get money back when they refinance a mortgage. This is often referred to as a cash-out refi. Scammers take advantage of this desire to tap the equity in a home to pay for things the homeowner couldn’t otherwise afford.
Equity stripping can occur in several ways, but at its heart is a scam artist who gains ownership of your home, borrows against it or sells it, pockets the proceeds, and disappears. You’re often left with a hefty mortgage balance and no place to live.
Watch out for unsolicited offers to refinance from companies claiming government affiliations. In particular, don’t be fooled by the use of official-sounding acronyms like “TARP” or official-looking website addresses. Scammers use these to gain your trust. Once they do, they’ll likely try to charge you for access to government assistance. Worse, they might extract enough personal information to commit identity theft.
New disclosure rules make spotting scams easier
Many unscrupulous lenders have relied on confusing paperwork to dupe borrowers into paying excessive upfront fees on loans. Others would pull last-minute rate switches at closing. Still others would disguise prepayment penalties, which can prove costly if you ever try to refinance again or retire a loan early.