Archive for Austin Home Buying Process

Eliminate Mortgage Insurance

Pre-paying your mortgage can save thousands in interest and build equity in your home. As cheap as mortgage rates are currently, they’re higher than you can earn on your savings. If you don’t need the money any time soon, pre-paying the mortgage can be the better investment.

If you have a FHA loan, pre-paying the mortgage can also benefit you by eliminating the annual mortgage insurance premium early. For example, if a person bought a home for $175,000 with a 3.5% down payment on a 4% FHA loan, the monthly mortgage insurance would be $178.99.

It would take 116 months or over 9.5 years to reduce the principal enough to cancel the MIP. If the borrower would make additional principal contributions of $285.32 per month, the MIP would not be required after five years. Beginning June 3, 2013, mortgage insurance on FHA loans will be required for the life of the mortgage.

The elimination of MIP would lower payments or a buyer could continue making the higher payments to reduce the principal and retire the loan sooner.

FHA mortgages with terms longer than 15 years, the MIP can be cancelled when the loan-to-value reaches 78% after a minimum of five years. With normal amortization, that would take about 10-12 years.

Another alternative to eliminate the MIP is to refinance the home with a conventional loan. If the loan-to-value is less than 80%, the MIP would no longer be required and a lower interest rate may be available.

Low Inventories Indicate a Trend

Low inventory is a relative term depending on how you’re comparing it.  Would the comparison be to total number of homes on the market last year, homes in a certain price range or homes in a certain area?  In some situations, it’s a combination of all of those things.

In any given market, inventories will fluctuate based on area and price range.  The National Association of REALTORS® considers a balanced market to be six months’ supply of homes.  If it takes longer than six months to sell, it is thought to be a buyer’s market and less than six months, a seller’s market.  Most buyers and sellers probably feel inventory equilibrium is more like three month’s supply of homes.

Inventory has a direct impact on price.  During the housing bubble, demand decreased, supply ballooned to four million houses and prices dropped dramatically.  Increased inventories due to foreclosures, bank’ revised lending practices and builder’s lack of new housing starts each contributed to the dramatically lower prices.

As the market has recovered, economic conditions have improved, banks have loosened their requirements, interest rates have remained low, foreclosures have slowed and gradually, the inventory has been reduced to approximately two million houses.  When demand is constant but inventory is reduced, price tends to increase because the same number of people are trying to buy a smaller than normal number of homes.

Based on the low mortgage rates that have been inching up each week in 2013 and an improving consumer confidence level, most markets are experiencing some increase in demand.  With inventory decreasing, buyers in the marketplace can see that prices are increasing.

Just as signs of spring can be seen to be just around the corner, it should be recognized what direction prices will be moving.  Hindsight is 20/20 but we can’t purchase or sell in the past.  We need to make decisions today on what we think will happen in the future.

If you’re curious to know what inventory conditions are for your specific market, send me an email with the price range and area and I’ll send you a report.  Vivian@VivianDaywood.com

FHA Mortgages Becoming More Expensive!

The 3.5% down payment on FHA loans could be more expensive for buyers than expected. Beginning April 1, 2013, the mortgage insurance premium will go up by .1% to 1.35% which may not even be noticeable to most would-be homeowners.

The staggering increase will occur on 6/3/2013 when FHA’s policy on the duration of the required mortgage insurance will be increased for the life of the mortgage. It basically doubles the amount of total MIP if the loan is paid to term.

 Example: Purchase Price $175,000
with 3.5% down payment at 4% mortgage rate on 30 year term

 

Current

After 6/3/13

MIP duration

78% of original loan

Life of mortgage

Cumulative premium

$20,838.24

$42,447.93

Currently, the MIP is required for approximately 9 years 9 months with normal amortization. The new program would require the MIP for the life of the loan. In this example, the initial monthly MIP is $196.88 which decreases based on amortization.

There are buyers that qualify on income and credit who may not have the necessary additional down payment required for 80% and 90% conventional loans. The 3.5% FHA program has provided a great vehicle to get into a home with a minimum amount of cash.

For homeowners that expect to stay in their home for ten years or less, the new changes might not have much financial impact. Homeowners who expect to be in their home long term can refinance with a conventional loan without mortgage insurance once the equity has increased due to amortization and appreciation.

For buyers to avoid these increases, they will need to act now to get the FHA commitment issued prior to these change dates.

What is it Going to Take?

How much evidence is needed to make a decision to get out of the rent race and become a homeowner?

Compare your rent with a mortgage payment on a similar size property. If you want a larger home than your current one, use the rent that property would require instead of what you’re currently paying. If it’s considerably cheaper, you may not need any further encouragement.

By the time you consider the principal reduction, appreciation and tax savings, your monthly cost of housing could be much less than the rent you’re paying.

The principal reduction included in each payment is like a forced savings account that increases as your mortgage balance decreases. Your equity in the property will also grow due to appreciation. The equity is part of your net worth and an investment in your family’s future.

The income tax savings can be an additional financial consideration if the combined interest and property taxes exceed the allowable standard deduction.

Trends are showing that both tenants and homeowners are staying in their homes longer. It’s been said that whether you rent or own, you’re paying for the home. Do you really want to buy the home for your landlord? Check out your numbers on a Rent vs. Own.

Sooner is Better Than Later!

Buyers who have delayed purchasing a home due to concerns about what might happen to the tax laws affecting home ownership should feel comfortable about getting back in the market. The recent legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President continues to value homes as a favored investment.

For a summary of specific real estate provisions in the “Fiscal Cliff” bill, click here.

Whether the delayed purchase is for a home to live in as your principal residence or to use as rental property, taking action sooner is better than later.

Reasons to buy now:

  1. The house payment with taxes and insurance is probably cheaper than the rent.
  2. Rents will continue to rise making the difference even greater in the future.
  3. Lock-in the principal & interest payment with a fixed-rate mortgage.
  4. 30 year mortgage terms are available to most borrowers.
  5. The mortgage interest deduction is intact for the majority of taxpayers.
  6. The capital gain exclusion for principal residences up to $500,000 remains in place.
  7. Prices are going up due to lower inventories and several years of low housing starts.
Contact me about any specific questions you have or information you need.

Get Your Offer Accepted

As the market shifts from a buyer’s market, it’s good to know how to improve your chances to have the seller accept your offer.

Once you decide on a home, don’t waste time; write an offer and submit it as soon as possible. Competing with another buyer happens more frequently than you’d expect. Multiple offers are a seller’s advantage but here are some tips to level the playing field:

  • Realistic offer – don’t give the impression you’re trying to “steal” the property. Submit comparable sales that justify your offer.
  • Pre-approval letter – this satisfies seller’s biggest concern that an unqualified buyer will unnecessarily take the home off the market and the seller will lose other opportunities.
  • More earnest money – it shows you’re serious and makes the seller feel like the contract will actually close.
  • Minimize contingencies – from a seller’s standpoint, each contingency is one more reason why the sale won’t go through. They feel the home is “off the market” and they’re in limbo.
  • Shorten inspection period – your agent can help you set a reasonable date but let the seller know you’re willing to close prior to that if possible.
  • Write a personal letter to the seller telling them why you want their home – this can be the emotional connection to the seller that makes the difference in you getting the home.
A seller wants to feel confident that the offer they accept will actually close so they can plan for their next move. Following tips like these can definitely affect negotiations and help put together an offer that is more likely to be accepted.

Borrowers to Pay More for FHA Loans!

FHA has announced a major change to its loan program which allows borrowers to cancel the mortgage insurance premium (MIP) when their unpaid balance reaches 78% of the original purchase price. While no specific date has been set for the change, sometime in 2013, new FHA loans will require the mortgage insurance for the life of the loan.

At existing rates, the monthly MIP on a $168,875 mortgage is $178.99 per month. Under the current rule with normal amortization, the MIP would no longer be required in 9 years and 9 months. However, under the new rule, it would last for the entire 30 year term.

They also announced that the annual MIP will also be increased from 1.25% to 1.35% at some point in the near future. HUD, the parent agency for FHA, is making the changes to restore the capital reserves of the program that are needed to fund failed loans.

People that can close a FHA loan before the change takes place will fall under the old rules for canceling MIP and the lower rates. Since no date was announced, it is not known exactly when the changes will take effect.

While this information will probably not make the evening news, it will have a big impact on borrowers planning to use an FHA loan. Please pass it on to anyone you know who might be considering purchasing or refinancing with a FHA loan.

Changing a Lock is Key!

There are times when you need to change the locks on your home to protect your family and possessions. It should always be considered when you move into a new home; when keys are lost, stolen or unreturned; or a cleaning or other service provider hasn’t returned the key.

Replacing the lockset would give you a totally new mechanism that should work better and if you go back with the same manufacturer, you’ll probably avoid any carpentry. You can order the locks online and have them work with the same key at no extra charge.

Another alternative is to have a locksmith rekey them. The locksmith can easily make all of the locks work with the same key. Compare the cost and decide which would be a better expenditure.

While you’re considering your security, a key safe might be a very convenient addition. Most makers say that it is much easier to break into a home than a key safe. The cost is reasonable and you can attach it to your exterior wall. Generally, they’re combination locks that would allow you access if you or another family member forgot their key. It’s also convenient to give a house keeper the combination and can be easily changed if necessary.

Rates are Down But It Costs More to Buy!

The latest Housing Affordability Index from the National Association of REALTORS® shows an interesting trend taking place this year that needs buyers’ attention. Most people know that the mortgage rates are still at incredibly low rates but don’t feel there is much sense of urgency.

This report shows that mortgage rates have fallen from 4.37% in January to 3.81% for June. However, the report shows that the payment as a percentage of income has gone from 12.1% to 13.9% which simply means that buyers have to spend more of their income on a home.

The reason is that the median price of homes nationally has gone from $154,600 in January to $190,100 in June which is a 23% increase. The two major components of housing affordability are the price of the homes and the mortgage rates a buyer must pay.

Even if one of those components is going down, the other could have a significant affect as is shown in this year’s trend in housing affordability. In the past few weeks, the effects of which are not show in this report, mortgage rates have been moving up.

Home buyers and investors who have been taking a wait and see approach need to make a decision if now is the time to act.

Assumable FHA, VA Mortgages

The low interest rates secured by borrowers recently on FHA mortgages may become valuable in a different way in the future. FHA and VA mortgage are assumable at the existing interest rates subject to buyer qualification.

Buyers wanting to assume an existing FHA mortgage must be owner-occupants and meet the current FHA guidelines. Applicants should have a minimum 600 credit score, total debt with house payment to be assumed not to exceed 41% of their monthly gross income and meet other standard income, credit and qualifying requirements.

The benefits are not only assuming a lower interest rate resulting in lower payments but the closing costs on an assumption are much less than originating a new loan. The fact that the mortgage is already into an amortization schedule and that lower interest rate loans amortize faster than higher interest rate loans make it build equity faster than a new mortgage.

When interest rates eventually rise, assumptions will provide an opportunity for buyers to lower their cost of housing significantly while improving their wealth positions.