FHA Down Payment Requirements: Homeownership Without A Big Savings Account

FHA Down Payment Requirements Homeownership Without A Big Savings AccountBuying a home for the first time can be a challenge. One of the tools created to help people buy a home for the first time comes in the form of FHA loans. There were loans that were supported by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). They can require a down payment that is as low as 3.5 percent. 

FHA loans are significantly different from traditional mortgage loans. Those who have purchased a house before have likely heard that the average down payment is closer to 20 percent of the value. This can make it hard for someone to buy a home, particularly if they already have a car loan and credit card debt.

The Role Of The Credit Score For FHA Loans

Anyone who is interested in a mortgage with a down payment of 3.5 percent will want to do everything they can to make sure they have a strong mortgage application. This starts by taking a look at the credit score. 

A credit score of 580 or higher will increase someone’s chances of successfully applying for a mortgage with a 3.5 percent down payment. Those who have a credit score between 500 and 579 will likely be asked to put 10 percent down in order to qualify for a loan through the FHA program.

For example, someone who is looking to buy a home that costs $250,000 may only need to put down $8,750. On the other hand, if someone’s credit score is under 580, they might be asked to put down $25,000. This can make a tremendous difference to someone who is trying to purchase a home.

The Other Requirements Of An FHA Loan

While a small down payment is attractive to many people, one catch is that homeowners may be asked to purchase private mortgage insurance, or PMI, under this program. This insurance policy is required because the lenders through the FHA program are taking on more risk by accepting a smaller down payment.

PMI is a cost that will need to be paid monthly, in addition to the mortgage payment. Those who are willing to put down a larger down payment might be able to get the PMI requirement waived.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

NAHB: Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 High

NAHB Home Builder Confidence Near 1999 HighThe National Association of Home Builders reported a housing market index reading of 74 in February; the index reading was one point lower than for January and was only two points below the highest reading of 76 reported in December. Readings over 50 indicate that most builders consider housing market conditions to be positive.

Factors contributing to builder confidence included strong housing markets and low mortgage rates; job growth and higher wages also boosted builder confidence.

Low Inventory Influences Home Prices

Low inventories of available homes continued to drive demand and rising home prices. Homebuyers faced with low supplies of existing homes turned to new home developments for additional options. First-time homebuyers faced obstacles including affordability and student loan debt that negatively impacted the ability to save for a down payment and qualify for home loans.

High costs of building materials and lots contributed to homebuilder expenses and higher home prices. Analysts noted that environmental and zoning issues also presented challenges for builders and limited their ability to meet the rising demand for affordable single-family homes.

Composite indices used to calculate the Homebuilders Housing Market Index slipped one point in each category. Builder confidence in current market conditions for newly-built single-family homes fell to an index reading of 80 and builder confidence in market conditions over the next six months dipped to 79. Buyer traffic volume in new housing developments dropped to 57, but buyer traffic readings of 50 or more were historically rare until recently.

Analysts identified correlations between the Housing Market Index and readings on consumer sentiment. The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index and the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Index readings trend close to the NAHB Housing Market Index but are reported one month behind the Housing Market Index.

Regional Builder Confidence Mixed

Homebuilders reported mixed confidence in housing market conditions throughout the U.S. Market Conditions improved in the Northeast where homebuilder confidence was five points higher at 67. The Midwestern region reported a builder confidence reading of 62, which was five points lower than January’s reading. Homebuilder confidence in the South rose two points to an index reading of 79; homebuilder confidence fell four points in the West to 82.

Regional builder confidence levels reflect local economic conditions and events impacting housing markets.


Big Home Repairs That Can Sink A Budget Quickly

Big Home Repairs That Can Sink A Budget QuicklyFor most individuals and families, their home is the most expensive investment they will ever purchase. Therefore, it is important for everyone to take care of their home. Routine maintenance can prevent costly repairs from arising down the road.

It is important for homeowners to make sure they budget for home maintenance and repair costs. Even with a meticulous repair schedule, it is still possible that a major repair might be required. There are a few home repairs that are more expensive than others.

Damage To The Foundation Of The Home

One of the most expensive home repairs that might come up involves damage to the foundation. The foundation is the part of the home that supports the rest of the structure. Therefore, its strength is vital to the integrity of any building.

Depending on the exact nature of the project, repairing the foundation of a home may cost close to $100,00 if the building is large and the damage is severe. At a minimum, homeowners should expect to spend a few thousand dollars on a home foundation repair project.

Some of the most common reasons why a foundation might be damaged involve plumbing issues, clogged gutters, and flooding. Water can corrode the foundation and pool around the base, leading to damage. Therefore, the water system also needs to be addressed with any foundation repair.

A Roof Repair Can Be Costly

The roof is one of the most important barriers in the home. It separates the interior of the home from the dangers of the elements outside. Therefore, it is critical for the roof to remain intact. Roofs need to be inspected regularly.

If there is a problem with the roof, this may cost more than $10,000. Regularly inspecting the roof and making repairs and replacements as they come up can save a home’s budget.

Siding Repairs Are Expensive

Finally, water and wind can damage the siding of a home. Furthermore, insects and other pests can also lead to siding repairs. Repairing a single piece of siding isn’t costly; however, if the entire siding needs to be replaced, this may cost more than $15,000. The exact nature of the cost is going to depend on the materials chosen.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 18th, 2020Last week’s economic reporting included releases on inflation, retail sales, and consumer sentiment. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Hits Highest Growth Pace Since 2018

Consumer staples including rent, prepared food and medical expenses caused inflation to rise 0.10 percent from December to January, which was the smallest month-to-month growth in four months. Rents drove month-to-month inflation with a growth rate of  0.40 percent.

Year-over-year inflation grew from 2.30 percent to 2.50 percent, which was the highest year-over-year growth rate since Fall 2018. Analysts said that inflation remained low according to historical data and that no sharp inflationary growth was expected.

The rapid acceleration of rents and home prices continued to create obstacles for renters and homebuyers, who faced prices rising faster than the overall inflation rate and wage growth,

Retail Sales Dip in January

The Commerce Department reported an 0.30 percent drop in retail sales for January, which matched expectations, but was half the growth rate of 0.60 percent posted in December. January’s lower reading was largely attributed to clothing stores, which experienced a 3.10 percent decline in sales after the holiday season.

Analysts expected retail sales to grow at a pace fast enough to support economic growth throughout 2020.

Mortgage Rates and New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported higher rates for fixed-rate mortgage loans last week; rates averaged 3.47 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages and were two basis points higher. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged one basis point higher at 2.97percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose an average of four basis points to 3.28 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages, 0.80 percent for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 205,000 new claims filed but fell short of an expected reading of 211,000 new claims filed. The prior week’s reading for new unemployment claims was 203,000 claims filed.

The University of Michigan reported higher consumer confidence for February; the Consumer Sentiment Index rose to 100.8 from January’s index reading of  99.8. Analysts predicted no change for February’s reading.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on NAHB Housing Markets, Housing starts, building permits and sales of previously-owned homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Home Improvements That May Improve Resale Value

Home Improvements That May Improve Resale ValueDid you know that some home improvements lower the resale value of a home and decrease the number of potential buyers? If you are going to repaint the exterior of your home bright, traffic-cone orange and try to sell it for a high price, think again! Maybe, if the artist Pablo Picasso once lived there that might work, but probably not under any other circumstances.

Some things are counter-intuitive. A swimming pool is an example. Swimming pools are great and highly desirable for many people. However, others do not necessarily think so and only see them as adding unnecessary expenses for maintenance and upkeep.

There are general guidelines to follow, which give you a better chance to increase the resale value of a home by making certain improvements. If possible, work with your REALTOR® who understands the local real estate market conditions before making decisions about investing in renovations to increase a home’s resale value.

Be aware that the industry averages show a percentage of recoupment of the investment and no renovations make back what they cost, in terms of increased resale value. This means you should only consider renovations that you like for other reasons as well as the potential financial impact on the home’s value. The only way to profit from renovations is to do some work yourself.

Renovations — Partial Recoupment In Resale Value

Here are the top ten things to consider with their average installation cost, average increased resale amount, and the average recoupment percentage as ranked by Remodeling in the 2020 Cost vs. Value Report:

1. Manufactured Stone Veneer (applied to the front of the home)

Installation Cost $9,357 — Increased Resale Amount $8,943 — Recoupment 96%

2. Garage Door Replacement

Installation Cost $3,695 — Increased Resale Amount $3,491 — Recoupment 94%

3. Fiber Cement Siding (applied to the exterior of the home)

Installation Cost $17,008 — Increased Resale Amount $13,195 — Recoupment 78%

4. Vinyl Siding (applied to the exterior of the home)

Installation Cost $14,359 — Increased Resale Amount $10,731 — Recoupment 75%

5. Vinyl Windows (double-pane)

Installation Cost $17,461 — Increased Resale Amount $12,761 — Recoupment 72%

6. Wooden Deck

Installation Cost $14,360 — Increased Resale Amount $10,355 — Recoupment 72%

7. Wood Windows (double-pane)

Installation Cost $21,495 — Increased Resale Amount $14,804 — Recoupment 69%

8. Steel Entry Door

Installation Cost $1,881 — Increased Resale Amount $1,294 — Recoupment 69%

9. Composite Deck

Installation Cost $19,856 — Increased Resale Amount $13,257 — Recoupment 67%

10. Asphalt-Shingled Roof

Installation Cost $24,700 — Increased Resale Amount $16,287 — Recoupment 66%

The runner-ups, with their recoupment percentages, are remodeling the bathroom (62%), metal roofing (61%), a kitchen remodel (59%), a bedroom addition (59%), and a bathroom addition (55%).


Notice that the top ten items that make the most positive impact on the resale price are all exterior projects and most of them are visible from the front of the home. The wise adage of “curb appeal sells” seems to be true when it comes to renovations that generally improve resale value.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

Common Problems Faced By New Homeowners

Common Problems Faced By New HomeownersBuying a new home is a big step for individuals and families. This is a time for celebration as the new furniture gets moved in, everyone gets adjusted, and the honeymoon phase starts with the new home. On the other hand, buying a home also means that all of the responsibilities rest with the owners.

Here are a few common problems that new homeowners face.

Taking Care Of The Outside

Many homeowners are quick to realize that there is a tremendous amount of maintenance on the outside of the home. Now, the exterior is their responsibility and doesn’t fall on a landlord. Sure, it can be helpful to hire someone; however, this can be expensive.

Some of the common questions that homeowners have include how frequently they should water the lawn. There might also be questions regarding which type of fertilizer and when they should use this. Also, the issues caused by weeds can be substantial. When in doubt about these issues, simply reach out to a professional and ask for help. Someone is always willing to lend a helping hand.

Plumbing Issues Are Common

It is important to do a home inspection before buying a home. This will let the potential buyer know about any repairs they might be inheriting. Some of the common issues have to do with the plumbing system.

One of the most common issues has to do with clogs. Sometimes, the clog takes place in the sink when someone tries to force food down the drain. In other situations, toilets might get clogged if something other than toilet paper gets flushed down the toilet. While a basic plunger is a great place to start, it is also prudent to invest in some drain cleaner and a snake.

The Lights Go Out

Sometimes, people are shocked to see the power go out during a storm. In some cases, the power company may need to come out and handle the repairs. In other situations, it might be a tripped circuit breaker. When the power goes out, head to the circuit breaker and take a look at any fuses that might be turned off. Unplug some of the appliances and then turn the circuit breaker back on! This might do the trick, but if it goes out again, call an electrician.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

The Impact Of The New Housing Construction Boom

The Impact Of The New Housing Construction BoomNew housing construction starts reached a record high in December 2019 going up 16.9%. This represents a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.608 million homes last December, which beat the record set in December 2006, 13 years ago, according to CNBC.

This was surprising news, as predictions made before the end of the year were that housing starts in December would reach only 1.375 million homes.

Experts say the current housing construction boom in the United States gets its support from the easy mortgage financing available and positive consumer expectations about the economy.

What Does The New Housing Boom Mean To Buyers And Sellers?

It is a wonderful time to be a home builder, except that builders are experiencing a shortage of construction labor and less availability of low-priced building lots. Nevertheless, there are plenty of interested buyers, especially for modestly-priced starter homes that very desirable for first-time homebuyers.

If you are one of these interested buyers, then, make sure you stand out from the crowd. Be sure to get your credit history in order so that any mistakes are corrected. Get pre-approved for a loan commitment in writing to be the most attractive buyer to a home builder. You may also have to be patient while waiting for your new home to be built. Put your deposit down and then allow extra time for the process to complete. Builders are extremely busy right now.

Consider Renovating For Resale Value

If you are thinking of selling your home, consider making renovations to bring it up to high-quality standards in a “like new” condition. Many buyers who are paying a premium for a newly constructed home will also consider a newly renovated one. Work closely with your REALTOR® to make sure your renovations have the best chance to add value and increase the resale price.

The Boom Areas

Housing starts were up about 40.8% in December when considered on a year-on-year basis. Single-family homes are the largest portion of the housing market. Those new housing starts increased in the Midwest and the South while decreasing in the Northeast and the West. The Midwest and South are seeing revitalized interest in residential home investments after being stagnant for the previous six quarters.


As we go forward in 2020, homebuilders’ confidence is slowing slightly but still remains close to levels last experienced in the middle of 1999. The housing market, which represents about 3.1% of the total U.S. economy, is doing its part to support the longest economic expansion on record.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

Considering A Reverse Mortgage? Understand These Important Points First

Considering A Reverse Mortgage Understand These Important Points FirstThere are many individuals who end up on a fixed income once they reach a certain age; however, their expenses aren’t always fixed. Sometimes, there is a large medical expense. In other cases, someone might need money for a new car or a home repair. In the event that someone needs cash quickly, one option is called a reverse mortgage.

Those who have equity built up in their home can draw upon this to help with unexpected expenses. This is a quick source of cash that many people overlook. At the same time, it is important to think about the pros and cons of a reverse mortgage.

The Pros Of A Reverse Mortgage

Taking out a reverse mortgage does have several benefits that everyone should know. First, there are no required monthly payments for any reverse mortgage loan. In addition, the money that people get from a reverse mortgage is not taxable. For many, this acts as a tax shield against any income that results from a reverse mortgage.

Next, nobody can ever owe more money than the value of the home when the building is sold. This prevents people from getting buried by potential interest payments. Finally, nobody will ever have to leave their home with a reverse mortgage. The owners retain the rights to the property.

The Cons Of A Reverse Mortgage

On the other hand, there are a few cons that people need to keep in mind as well. First, reverse mortgages are regulated by the federal government, which means that everyone needs to read the rules and regulations carefully. In addition, not everyone who owns a home will qualify for a reverse mortgage. They need to have enough equity built up in the home before the lender will consider it.

In order for someone to take out a reverse mortgage, a lien is going to be placed against the property. In the eyes of some, a lien must be paid off in the event the property is to be sold. Finally, in order to prevent a reverse mortgage from resulting in foreclosure, the building needs to be both maintained and insured.

Thinking about the pros and cons carefully can help someone decide if a reverse mortgage is right for them.  Contact your local home finance professional to get the best advice for your personal situation.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week -February 10th, 2020

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - February 10th, 2020Last week’s economic news included readings on construction spending and public and private-sector job growth. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and first-time jobless claims were also released.

Construction Spending Dips in December

Overall spending on public and private-sector construction spending dropped by  -0.20 percent in December to an annual rate of $1.33 trillion. Analysts expected spending to increase by 0.10 percent based on November’s revised reading of 0.70 percent growth in construction spending.

Spending on residential construction rose 1.04 percent in December, which is good news for housing shortages in many areas of the U.S. Lower mortgage and interest rates have fueled builder confidence as fears about the impact of tariffs on building materials were diminished.

Chronic short supplies of homes, especially affordable homes, have impacted housing markets in recent years. Builders seeking higher profits have focused on high-end construction as demand increased for entry-level and mid-range homes. Slim supplies of available homes continued to sideline buyers who couldn’t find affordable homes or homes they wanted to buy.

Bidding wars and cash buyers in high-demand markets also add additional pressure to home buyers who depend on mortgage financing. Real estate pros and industry analysts have long said the only way to ease high demand and rapidly rising home prices is for builders to produce more homes at a variety of price points.

Mortgage Rates, New Unemployment Claims Fall

Freddie Mac reported lower fixed mortgage rates for the third consecutive week as the average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell six basis points to 3.45 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages averaged three basis points lower at 2.97 percent.

Rates for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages averaged eight basis points higher at 3.32 percent. Discount points averaged 0.70 percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.20 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

New unemployment claims fell to 202,000 claims filed as compared to 215,000 new claims expected and the prior week’s reading of 217,000 first-time claims filed. The month-to-month reading for first time jobless claims is considered more stable and showed 211,750 new claims filed. The lowest post-recession month-to-month reading of 193,000 new claims filed was posted in April 2019.

Public and Private-Sector Jobs Increase in January

The government’s Non-farm Payrolls report posted 225,000 new public and private-sector jobs in January as compared to December’s reading of 147,000 jobs posted. An average of 211,000 public and private-sector jobs were added in the last three months. ADP reported  291,000 private-sector jobs added in January as compared to 199,000 jobs added in December.

The Commerce Department reported a national unemployment rate of 3.60 percent in January; analysts expected the unemployment rate to hold steady at December’s reading of 3.50 percent.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reporting includes readings on inflation, retail sales and consumer sentiment. Weekly reports on mortgage rates ad first-time jobless claims will also be released.

How To Find Places To Buy Rental Investment Properties

How To Find Places To Buy Rental Investment PropertiesReal estate, which is a rental property, has the unique characteristic under the tax code of being able to depreciate it and pretend the asset is going down in value, while, if you are a clever investor, you will acquire property that actually increases in value. Additionally, there are other tax advantages for owning a rental property that can help shelter income.

Positive Cash Flow

The key to success with a real estate investment portfolio of rental properties is to build value while it is self-sustainable. Have the goal of creating positive cash flow from every owned property. Making $100 per month positive cash flow from a single property may not sound like much until you multiply that by 25 properties. A portfolio with those characteristics makes a nice passive income of $2,500 per month or $30,000 per year.


Using leverage increases the return on investment (ROI) as long as you choose properties that are cash-positive enough to cover their carrying costs and do not lose value over time. The lower the amount of your money that you invest, the greater the leverage you have and the higher your ROI will be.

Finding Rental Income Property

Commercial rental income property is more challenging so it is best to focus on residential rental properties, especially when starting to build up a real estate portfolio. The things you want to look for when hunting for residential rental properties are a manageable median price for the area, an area that is showing steady annual appreciation in home values, and an area that is stable with no severe negative challenges now or in the foreseeable future.

City Opportunities

It is possible to find properties that are excellent investments in many parts of the United States. Here are some examples of cities that currently have investment opportunities so you can consider them and compare them to your location.

Here are the top ten residential rental markets as ranked by TurboTenant for 2020:

1. Reading, PA

Median Sales Price $140,000 — Annual Increase 11.1% — Average Rent $957

2. District Heights, MD

Median Sales Price $252,000 — Annual Increase 0.4% — Average Rent $1,408

3. Allentown, PA

Median Sales Price $145,000 — Annual Increase 19.0% — Average Rent $1,063

4. East Orange, NJ

Median Sales Price $273,000 — Annual Increase 10.0% — Average Rent $1,534

5. Nashua, NH

Median Sales Price $283,000 — Annual Increase 4.5% — Average Rent $1,524

6. Cincinnati, OH

Median Sales Price $163,000 — Annual Increase 3.1% — Average Rent $1,048

7. Paterson, N.J

Median Sales Price $268,000 — Annual Increase 11.9% — Average Rent $1,614

8. New Castle, DE

Median Sales Price $188,000 — Annual Increase 8% — Average Rent $1,884

9. Rochester, NY

Median Sales Price $136,000 — Annual Increase 5.6% — Average Rent $1,126

10. Hyattsville, MD

Median Sales Price $279,000 — Annual Increase 0.4% — Average Rent $1,982


It is possible to find cash-flow positive properties in all of these markets, so they are all excellent examples of what to look for when you are hunting for a residential rental property to acquire. Be sure to work with a qualified local REALTOR® who knows the market well that you are considering as well as your trusted home mortgage professional.