Current Servicemember or Veteran? 4 Reasons Why a VA Home Loan Is an Excellent Choice

Current Servicemember or Veteran? 4 Reasons Why a VA Home Loan Is an Excellent ChoiceAre you current or former member of the US military service who is looking to buy a new home? If so, you will be pleased to know that there are some special mortgage programs that are open to you. Let’s take a look at five reasons why a mortgage backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs is an excellent choice when buying your new home.

You Can Borrow Up To 100% Of The Home’s Value

You read that correctly! VA-backed mortgages are available to you even if you choose to put no money towards your down payment. This can be a huge benefit for those individuals and families who are looking to buy a new home but don’t have a large chunk of cash on hand to fund the down payment. Instead, you can work with your VA mortgage advisor to get financing for the entire purchase price of your home.

You Can Qualify For A ‘Jumbo’ Loan

Depending on the real estate market in your city, the size of home you need and how luxurious you want it, you may need a larger mortgage. The great news is that there are ‘jumbo’ options available with VA-backed home loans. In some cases, you may qualify for over $1 million in mortgage financing, which is likely to put most homes in your area within reach.

You Can Avoid Mortgage Insurance Fees

Home buyers using a conventional mortgage with less than 20 percent down are typically required to buy private mortgage insurance or “PMI.” However, this is not a requirement with VA-backed mortgages. If you qualify for a VA home loan, this can save you a significant amount of money over the loan’s term.

You Can Accelerate Your Payments At No Cost

If you decide that you want to pay your VA mortgage off a bit faster by accelerating your payments, you can do so without incurring fees or penalties. For example, if you are gifted a large sum of money or have a significant income tax return, you can contribute that amount directly against your mortgage.

These are just a few of the many great reasons to explore using a VA-backed mortgage to fund your next home purchase. For more information about VA home loans and to see if you qualify, contact your trusted mortgage professionals today.

Understanding ‘Bridge’ Financing: How to Buy a New Home Before You Sell Your Current One

Understanding 'Bridge' Financing: How to Buy a New Home Before You Sell Your Current OneOne of the biggest challenges a homeowner can face when looking to upgrade or move is trying to sell their current home while buying another. If most of your net worth or equity is locked up in your current house, you will need to move it into cash to help fund the purchase of your new home. The alternative is to wait until your home is sold and you receive the funds before trying to buy a new one – but you could end up waiting for months.

The great news is that there are bridge financing options available to homeowners which can help to get things moving. Let’s take a look at how a bridge loan works and how it can help you to buy a new home before your sale is finalized.

How Does A Bridge Loan Work?

First, it is important to note that a bridge loan isn’t the same as your mortgage loan for your new home. Instead, when you take out bridge financing, you’ll borrow against the equity that you’ve built up in your current home. You’ll then be able to use these funds to help cover the costs involved with closing on your new house. Then, when you sell your old home, you’ll use part of the proceeds of that to pay off your bridge loan.

The main benefit you’ll get from this approach is a bit of extra time and flexibility in selling your home. Instead of having to accept a low offer or rush into a sale, you’ll have a bit of breathing room to take the best offer when the time is right.

Try To Avoid Making A Contingent Offer

Your bridge financing can also help you to make the winning bid and close on your new home faster. One piece of advice that some real estate agents and other experts have shared is to avoid making an offer on a new home that is contingent on selling your current home. This is especially true if you are buying in a hot real estate market where there are other buyers competing against you for the same home. If you’re already funded, you can submit an offer to buy the home as soon as the seller is ready.

As you can see, taking out a bridge loan against the equity of your current home is a great way to cover the costs of buying a new home. For more information about how bridge financing works and how you can pair it up with a mortgage for a new house or condo, contact us today. Our team of mortgage advisors is happy to share financing options that fit your needs and budget.

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a Bankruptcy

How to Use a Mortgage to Buy a Home After Going Through a BankruptcyWhile it is sometimes the best option to get your finances repaired, the bankruptcy and following discharge period can be tough. However, while it may delay things for a couple of years, the good news is that even a bankruptcy won’t stop you from borrowing a mortgage to buy a home. In today’s article, we will share some insight into how you can get a mortgage loan after going through bankruptcy.

Step 1: Get A Professional Credit Assessment

Once your Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy has been discharged, you will be required to wait for at least two years before you’re able to take out a mortgage. During this time, it is a good idea to sit down with a credit professional and get an assessment. Individuals and families with a bankruptcy on their credit file are going to go through a bit of extra scrutiny when taking out future loans. So spend a bit of time working on cleaning up your credit.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Monthly Budget

As you move closer to buying a home, you will want to start living off of a monthly budget. This will help to ensure that you are always prepared for your monthly mortgage payments and aren’t left short of cash when payment time comes. A budget can be as simple as a spreadsheet listing your monthly sources of income and expenses. Alternatively, you can use iPhone or Android apps which help to make budget tracking easier.

Step 3: Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You will also need to start saving for the down payment that you’ll place on your home. The amount that you will need depends on a variety of factors including the city you’re buying in, the size of the home and much more. If you’re unsure about this, contact us and we’ll share some insight.

Step 4: Maintain Your Spending Discipline Until It’s Buying Time

Finally, it’s worth noting that you will need to be very disciplined in the period between your bankruptcy discharge and your mortgage application. Your credit report has to stay clean so that your mortgage lender does not doubt your ability to pay.

Don’t get discouraged if you have some work ahead of you to get your credit repaired. With a little time and effort, you can put your bankruptcy behind you and move on as a happy homeowner. To learn more about the financing process and to discuss your options, contact our team of mortgage professionals today. We’re here to help.

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart Strategies

Pay Your Mortgage Off Faster With These Money-Smart StrategiesAs with any loan or line of credit, there are benefits to getting your mortgage paid down. You’ll pay less in interest, potentially saving thousands over the repayment period. Moreover, you’ll own your home outright that much quicker.

Let’s explore four money-smart strategies that will help you to pay your mortgage off faster.

Start With The Obvious And Increase Your Payments

It won’t come as a surprise that one of the easiest ways to get your mortgage paid off is to increase the amount you put towards your monthly payments. Most lenders will allow you to place any extra funds directly against the outstanding loan amount or “principal.” This is very efficient as it avoids having to commit any additional funds to interest.

One trick that many families use is to round the payment amount up to the nearest hundred-dollar figure. For example, if your mortgage payment is $652.32, you would pay $700 instead. This might be an easy burden on your wallet but still amounts to an extra seven percent of your payment.

Accelerate Your Payment Schedule

Another way to get your mortgage paid off as quickly as possible is to accelerate how frequently you make payments. For example, if you are currently making payments on a monthly basis, you can switch to bi-weekly payments instead. This means that instead of 12 large payments per year, you’re making 26 smaller payments. However, your interest will still compound on a monthly basis which means that over time you’ll end up paying less in interest. Not all mortgage products support this, so it is best to check with your mortgage professional to ensure it is an option open to you.

Dedicate Your Tax Refund To Your Mortgage

If you receive a tax refund or other large sum of money, consider using it to pay your mortgage down further. This is an excellent use for a spare block of cash as it gets you one step closer to owning your home, free and clear.

Refinance Your Mortgage To A Shorter Term

Finally, one last strategy is to look at a shorter term for your mortgage. For example, if you started with a 30-year amortization, you can refinance down to a 15-year loan instead. This will require having access to significantly more money to place against your payment, so be sure to carefully budget for this additional cost.

These are just four of the many ways that you can get your mortgage loan paid off faster. For more information or to inquire about a mortgage for your next home, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to share additional strategies that can have you owning your dream home in no time.

Did You Know: Your Choice of Community Will Impact Your Mortgage – Here’s How

Did You Know: Your Choice of Community Will Impact Your Mortgage – Here's HowIf you are in the market for a new home, you’ve probably begun the process of choosing the neighborhood or community in which you want to live. The perfect spot to call home will depend on your age, the size and composition of your family, your working life and other factors. However, one thing you may not know is that the community you choose to live in can also impact your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore how the local area in which you live can affect your mortgage financing and interest rate.

Lender Pricing Varies By State

As you might imagine, the mortgage market is subject to a variety of legal rules and regulations. These laws vary from state-to-state, which means that they affect mortgages differently depending on where you live. All lenders have slight differences in their pricing depending on where you’re going to live.

Also, if you are looking to buy in a rural area which isn’t close to a major city, that can affect your mortgage as well. Some lenders might not service rural areas in your state, so you won’t be able to access their mortgage products. Price is another factor that can change your mortgage. If you are buying a home in a popular or luxurious community, that will drive the price up.

Is The Local Market Hot Or Cold?

Don’t forget that the pace of the local housing market may impact your mortgage as well. For example, if fewer new homes are being built or added to the local inventory, you may find that scarcity is causing prices to increase. Conversely, if no new homes are being built because there is no demand, prices are likely to be trending downward. 

In closing, it is important to remember that the community you choose to live in is one where you could find yourself situated for decades. Your mortgage interest rate should be less of a concern than ensuring you have access to great amenities, quality schools, and a safe environment. To learn more about mortgage costs in your community of choice, contact our professional team and we’d be happy to help.

It’s Pre-approval Time: How to Get Your Finances in Order for Your Mortgage Approval

It's Pre-approval Time: How to Get Your Finances in Order for Your Mortgage ApprovalBuying a new home is one of the most exciting experiences a person or family can have. Of course, before you can step foot into your new dream home you will need to get prepared financially, especially if you are taking out a mortgage to cover some of the purchase price. Let’s take a look at a few key steps that will help you to prepare for the financial background checks that are part of the mortgage process.

Square Up With The Government

The first place you’ll want to start is making sure that you are fully caught up on any income or other taxes. Rest assured that your lender will be checking your financial history and being behind on government payments is a significant red flag. Make a quick call to the IRS or visit them online to check on your status and verify that you’re fully paid up.

Scrub Your Credit History Clean

Next, you will want to check in with the major credit reporting agencies to get a copy of your credit report. Your credit or FICO score is an important indicator that suggests your risk level and creditworthiness. However, any unpaid or delinquent amounts on your report are equally as important as they can signal that you may have skipped out on debts in the past. Check for any red flags on your credit report and work with the agencies to get them challenged or removed

Get Your Down Payment Saved Up

You’ll also want to have your down payment amount saved and ready for use. Your mortgage lender will want to know how much of your savings you’re contributing to the overall purchase price. Also, if you’re committing less than 20 percent down you may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance.

Have All Your Paperwork Ready

Finally, check in with your mortgage lender to find out what paperwork you’ll need to bring in for your approval meeting. Recent W-2 or tax returns, pay stubs and financial asset information is a good place to start. Your lender may have other requirements so check in to find out what’s needed or give us a call and we can share some insight.

These are just a few of the tasks that you’ll complete on the path to securing your mortgage financing and buying your new home. For more information on the mortgage process or to start your pre-approval, contact us today.

How Much Is the Right Amount to Commit to Your Down Payment? Let’s Take a Look

How Much Is the Right Amount to Commit to Your Down Payment? Let's Take a LookAre you thinking about buying a new home? If you are going to take out mortgage financing, one consideration you will have is your down payment, which is the amount you pay up front in cash to cover some of the purchase cost. Let’s consider a few points that will help you to decide how much is the right amount for your down payment.

How Much Do You Have?

The most obvious question you will need to answer is: how much do I realistically have to place as a down payment? Keep in mind that your down payment is money that you aren’t going to see again until you sell your home. While you want to invest a significant amount for reasons we will share below, you still need to maintain a cash cushion of a year’s salary or so in case you fall ill or lose your job.

More Down, Less Monthly

The main case for putting as much as you can into your down payment is that the more you invest, the less you have to borrow. This means that over time, you will pay less interest and you will also have lower monthly payments. Keep in mind that with today’s low interest rates it’s a bit less of a burden to carry a large mortgage. However, these rates may swing upwards over the years, which will increase your costs.

The Need For Private Mortgage Insurance

If you’re going to put less than 20 percent down on your home, you’re almost certainly going to be required to purchase mortgage insurance. There are numerous options available to you, including those offered by the Federal Housing Administration or FHA. Your mortgage lender will share this and other private insurance policies that will protect you.

Don’t Forget About Lost Opportunity Cost

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the lost opportunity cost that comes with investing a large down payment. Unless you have a terrible money manager, your mortgage interest rate is likely to be less than you would be able to make investing the difference in your financial portfolio. If you’re thinking about putting an extra $50,000 in your down payment, consider that you might be able to make 5 to 10 percent on that over the next decade. There are no guarantees in investing, so speak with a professional for further guidance.

It’s not easy to choose the perfect amount for your down payment. If you have further questions or would like to know more about your mortgage options, contact us today. We’re happy to share our experience to help you choose the best mortgage for your new home.

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step Guide

Speed up Your Mortgage Closing Process With This Handy Four-step GuideAre you in the market for a new house or apartment? If you are financing the purchase by taking out a mortgage, you’ll want to know how to make this transaction run as smooth as possible. In today’s article, we’ll share a quick four-step guide to speeding up the mortgage closing process.

Step #1: Check In On Your Credit Score

The first step before applying for your mortgage is to check in on your credit. Request a copy of your credit score and history from one of the major reporting firms. Go over this report, paying close attention to any old or outstanding items that you may have already dealt with. Many individuals have old delinquencies that must be challenged to be removed from the report, so take care of these first before applying.

Step #2: Have All Your Documents Prepared

As with any loan, taking out a mortgage requires a small mountain of paperwork. The best way to speed this process up is to have all of your financial documentation ready for inspection and use by the lender.

Note that each mortgage provider has different requirements for what you’ll need. A brief list of some items which are commonly requested includes your current employment details, recent pay stubs, recent W-2 forms or tax returns, proof of self-employment or other means of income, asset details such as bank accounts and investments and debt information such as other mortgages, student loans and more.

Step #3: Have An Offer Ready

If you have already settled on the home that you want to buy, it’s best to get your offer prepared in advance of being fully approved for mortgage financing. Your real estate agent will be able to help with crafting an offer that is subject to the home passing an inspection. It’s especially important to have an offer ready in the event that other buyers are competing for the same home that you are.

Step #4: Get The Inspection Finished Promptly

While your lender is completing the home appraisal process, you should be having the home inspected. Getting the inspection completed promptly will prevent any delays due to problem areas that might be uncovered. For example, a pest problem like termites may need to be dealt with, or minor repairs to the roof structure may need to be scheduled.

Following the steps above will help to ensure that your mortgage closing process goes as smoothly as possible. To learn more about your mortgage options or to get the pre-approval process started, contact us today. Our friendly mortgage professionals are happy to assist.

Worried About Interest Rates Rising? Here’s How You Can Prepare for an Upward Trend

Worried About Interest Rates Rising? Here's How You Can Prepare for an Upward TrendWhether you are just starting to shop for a new home or you’ve been paying off your mortgage for years, the news of potential interest rate increases may be worrying. Of course, interest rates naturally cycle higher and lower over time, so is there anything to be genuinely concerned about? In today’s article, we’ll explore interest rates and how you can prepare for an upward trend in rates if and when the time comes.

Speak With Your Mortgage Advisor First

If you already have a mortgage, the first step would be to speak with your lender to discuss what’s coming in regards to interest rates. If you are locked into a “fixed” rate, check and see how long you have left before this needs to be adjusted. If you are on a floating or adjustable rate, you may be able to lock that in for a few years.

If you do not already have a mortgage advisor or if you want a second opinion, we can help. Get in touch with us at your convenience.

Refinance When The Time Is Right

It is always a good idea to understand when the best time to refinance your mortgage might be. In short, refinancing refers to the process of swapping out your current mortgage loan for a new one. Your new mortgage pays off your old mortgage, and you continue forward paying down the new loan. This is typically done when interest rates are on the way down, but refinancing applies to many home owners at different times. Have an honest discussion with your lender to determine if refinancing is right for you.

Start Tucking Aside Extra Cash

Finally, if you are truly concerned that you may have to spend a bit more to cover your monthly mortgage payment in the future, it’s best to start saving now. Put aside an extra $25 or $50 each month into a savings account where it can stay until you need to use it. The upside is that, if you don’t need it, you’ll have a nice nest egg which can be invested or added to your retirement savings.

Aside from preparing yourself financially, there is little else you can do about the direction of mortgage interest rates. To learn more about rate trends or to discuss how they might impact your mortgage, contact us today. We’re happy to share our experience and insight to help you make the best decision.

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?

You Ask, We Answer: What Are the Fees and Costs That Come Along With a Mortgage?Have you been considering a mortgage for your next home purchase? As with any loan or financial product, there are a variety of fees and costs you may incur in the process of closing your mortgage. In today’s post, we’ll explore a few of these potential fees and the situations in which you may encounter them. Let’s get started!

Title Insurance Costs

You’re almost certainly going to incur insurance fees and charges. In most cases, you’ll need to pay for title insurance for the lender, which is based on the purchase price of the home but varies from state to state. This protects the lender if something is missed during the title search, which shows whether or not there are any liens on the property.

Mortgage Underwriting Fees

Depending on the lender, you may or may not be assessed an underwriting fee. When you apply for a mortgage, there’s an intense amount of research required to determine the types of mortgage products that you qualify for and the amount of financing you can afford. This fee covers the costs involved in conducting this research. This may also be referred to as the ‘origination fee’ or included within it.

The Closing Fee

As mentioned above, there are title costs associated with finalizing your home purchase. As the name suggests, the closing fee covers the cost of having a representative from the title company present at the final ‘closing’ of the deal. This professional supervises the formal legal transfer of the home from the previous owner to you.

Legal And Attorney’s Fees

Speaking of legal, in most states you will require an attorney for some part of the closing process. This may or may not be related to the mortgage financing itself. For example, in some states, you will need to have an attorney present when you finalize the mortgage paperwork. In others, you’ll only need them for other parts of the purchase transaction.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Finally, there are a handful of less common fees and costs that you might incur. These range from courier fees to get documents moved around the city to bank and wire fees to transfer your down payment.

While the list above may look like a lot, in the grand scheme of your total mortgage cost you won’t even notice most of these fees. For more information about mortgage fees or to apply for financing, contact our friendly team of mortgage professionals today. We’re happy to help.