Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things Up

Saving Up for Your Down Payment? Try These Money-saving Tips to Speed Things UpOne of the most significant challenges that many people face when preparing to buy a first home relates to saving money for a down payment. While there are many different loan programs with varying down payment requirements, the fact is that it can still be difficult to save up a large sum of money. Some programs may require you to save as much as 10 percent or 20 percent of the sales price of the home.

You can employ a few different tips and techniques to save money for a down payment more quickly, and these are some of the options that others have successfully used to save money for their home purchase.

Make Saving Automatic

One idea that works well for many people is to make saving for your new home automatic. This may be as simple as scheduling a regular draft or transfer from your checking account when your paycheck is deposited into your savings account. Some employers may even facilitate this process by contributing some of your funds into a savings account on your behalf. With this option, the money would go directly into your savings account without you having a chance to spend it.

Take Advantage of Retirement Accounts

If your employer provides you with the option of investing in an employer-sponsored retirement account, you should take advantage of this option. Many will offer a dollar-for-dollar matching program, and this may essentially double the amount of money that is saved in the account.

More than that, the funds from many retirement accounts may be withdrawn without penalty if they are used for a first-time home purchase. There are some rules and regulations regarding this, so you should research this option more thoroughly.

These are among the two best options for saving money for a down payment for your first home purchase. There are other ideas that you can consider as well. For example, you may borrow from a whole life insurance policy, obtain a gift from a family member or even sell some of your personal belongings that you no longer need or use.

When you combine many of these ideas together, you may be surprised how quickly your down payment fund can grow. You can also speak with a mortgage professional to learn more about the actual amount of money that you may need for the down payment and closing costs.

The Top Home Renovations You Should Go All Out On

The Top Home Renovations You Should Go All Out OnWith many people spending more time at home, lots of homeowners are taking advantage of the opportunity to improve their houses. If you are thinking about making an upgrade to your house, you probably have a budget you would like to stick to. On the other hand, there are several home renovations you should splurge on if you want to maximize the return on your investment.

Renovate The Kitchen

Many people say that the kitchen is the center of the house. This is where you will spend a lot of your time, and a lot of your guests will congregate in the kitchen as well. Because of how important the kitchen is to not only yourself but a prospective homebuyer, this is where you can maximize the return on your renovation investment. It is not unusual for you to recoup most of the money you spend improving your kitchen when you go to sell your home. 

Replace Your Floors

Even though you may not think about the surface on which you walk, upgrading your floors is a great way for you to improve the value of your home. Your floors take a beating between heavy equipment, your feet, and your pets, so if you can replace your floors and give them an upgrade, you can increase the value of your home. There might even be new flooring options available, such as luxury vinyl plank, that were not available when you first purchased it. Consider upgrading your flooring to increase the value of your home. 

Finish Your Attic Or Basement

One of the most direct ways to increase the value of your home is to increase your square footage. You do not necessarily need to complete an addition if you can finish your attic or your basement. You may want to work with a professional contractor who can help you turn your attic or basement into an extra room. You can use the extra space as a home theater, a gym, or a recreational space.

Invest In Your Home Through Renovations

These are a few of the top renovations on which you should consider going all out. Even though it might be expensive, these renovations can increase the value of your home. 

 

Is It Best To Put Down A Large Down Payment, Or Be Agile With Your Savings?

Is It Best to Put Down a Large Down Payment, or Be Agile With Your Savings?Putting down the largest sum of money at your disposal might seem like the best way to go when it comes to your mortgage down payment. There is a certain amount of truth to this, but the reality is bigger is not always better.

Ideally, the amount of money you settle on for your mortgage down payment will take into account your monthly budgeting requirements.

The Big Advantages Of A Large Down Payment

Fewer Mortgage Payments: The larger the down payment, the higher the likelihood that you will be able to afford a shorter mortgage. Unlike some of the other benefits of large down payments, ensuring this perk is available to you is solely dependent on whether or not your post-down payment budget will be able to support the necessary payments.

Lower Payment Totals: If you choose to stick to a longer payment plan, each month’s payment will be significantly less than it would have been had you chosen to put less money down up front. Of course, if you choose a shorter mortgage you will be required to pay more.

No Need For Mortgage Insurance: When the down payment is a lower percentage of the purchase amount, lenders will often require clients to apply for mortgage insurance as way to protect themselves in the case that a client defaults on the loan. However, if the buyer is able to make a larger down payment, mortgage insurance can be completely avoided.

Lower Interest Rates: The interest rate on your mortgage is dependent on how much you need to borrow. The more you pay out of pocket, the less money you will have to borrow from a lender. This means the interest rate on the loan will be lower and you will lose less money on the loan overall.

Coping Smartly With A Small Down Payment

Making a larger down payment may not be an option for you in your current financial state. Opting to make a smaller down payment will still allow you to purchase your new home, with a few extra conditions. Higher interest rates and having to take out mortgage insurance are the two primary conditions you are likely to come across.

Once the down payment is made, your main concern becomes making the most of your monthly mortgage payments.

A great coping strategy is to get into the habit of paying off more than the amount due on as many scheduled payment days as possible. Another good strategy is to arrange for an accelerated payment schedule. These small adjustments could help you pay off your mortgage faster, and save you more money as a result.

When settling on a down payment amount, the most important issue to factor into your decision is whether or not you are capable of remaining financially secure after the payment is made.

If a larger down payment is going to dramatically impact your emergency funds, you may want to reconsider. Contact your local mortgage professional to learn more about choosing the most suitable mortgage for your budget.

The Top Smart Home Products You Should Know About

The Top Smart Home Products You Should Know AboutTechnology has come a long way, and you might be thinking about turning your house into a smart home. Now, there are a lot of smart home products available, and you may have a difficult time keeping track of which ones are best for you. What are some of the top smart home products you need to know about?

A Smart Lock

If you are tired of misplacing your keys, you should consider investing in a smart lock. Smart locks come in many shapes and forms, and many of them allow you to program multiple combinations into them. This means that you can give different combinations to different people, keeping track of who comes into your home based on the combination that is entered. This is particularly helpful if you want to allow your kids to enter the house when you are not home. You may even want to invest in the smart lock that comes with Bluetooth connectivity. That way, you don’t have to worry about getting locked out of your house ever again.

A Video Doorbell

If you don’t want to deal with solicitors anymore, you may want to invest in a video doorbell. With a video doorbell, you can see who is on the other side of your door when he or she rings the doorbell. You can even communicate with these people when you are not home. You can give instructions to food and package delivery personnel, or you can ignore the doorbell if there is someone outside you do not want to talk to.

A Smart Thermostat

A smart thermostat can help you save money on your utility expenses. Using a smart thermostat, you can place the HVAC system on a predetermined schedule, ensuring that it does not work as hard when you are not home. A smart thermostat can also give you access to detailed analytics, helping you figure out what you can do to reduce your utility expenses. You can even control your HVAC system remotely when you are not home.

Upgrade Your House With Smart Home Products

These are just a few of the many smart home products that can help you upgrade your standard of living. Consider taking a look at how these products might work with your home.

What Fees Are Involved With a Reverse Mortgage? Let’s Take a Look

What Fees Are Involved With a Reverse Mortgage? Let's Take a LookInvesting in a home may be one of the most significant purchases you’ll make in your lifetime, but many people forget that there are a number of other costs associated with buying a home. If you’re considering a reverse mortgage and want to be clear on all of the fees involved, here are a few things you can expect to come across.

Initial Home Appraisal Fee

In order to ensure that you qualify for a reverse mortgage, you’ll need to spend a lump sum up front to determine the market cost of your home. While the amount of this fee will depend on the size and age of your home, it generally runs from a couple hundred dollars to less than a thousand and will be paid to the appraisal company that you’re dealing with.

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

At the time that you close on your mortgage, you’ll be required to pay a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) in order to secure your loan. This amount will vary from lender to lender and will be calculated based on the lesser-appraised value of your home. In addition to this, annual mortgage insurance premiums will be charged throughout the entire period of the loan and will be a percentage of the outstanding balance of your mortgage.

Loan Origination Fee

In order to process and underwrite your loan, you will also be required to pay a loan origination fee, which covers the administrative costs. While this amount has come down in recent years, it is a sizeable lump sum that hovers around 2% of your home’s value up to $200,000. If the home’s value exceeds this amount, it will go down to 1% after the initial amount is charged.

Other Third Party Fees

Like any mortgage loan, there are a number of one times fees that you’ll need to pay in order to secure your mortgage. In addition to a monthly servicing fee, there will also be fees like surveying, title fees and credit checks that will be added on to the total cost of your mortgage product. It’s important before choosing this option to ensure that you know what costs you’ll be dealing with.

A reverse mortgage may be the right mortgage product for you, but it’s important to be educated of all of the costs before choosing this option. If you’re currently considering other mortgage products, you may want to contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

Use A Fixer-Upper Mortgage To Expand Your Options

Use A Fixer-Upper Mortgage To Expand Your Options

Many people purchasing a home for the first time are running into the same problem. There simply are not enough starter or entry-level houses available in the current market that are ready for people to move into. One solution some home buyers are exploring is to buy a fixer-upper home. With a home renovation mortgage, prospective homebuyers can qualify for a home loan that combines the cost of home improvements with the purchase price of the house.

A Lack Of Affordable Homes

Regardless of whether they are brand new or resale homes, there simply are not enough affordable homes for first-time homebuyers. A significant number of new houses are built for people who are looking to purchase their second or third home. Furthermore, because there is a lot of demand for affordable entry-level houses, their prices have gone up. This makes it very difficult for first-time homebuyers to qualify for a mortgage for an entry-level home. 

Consider Fixing Up An Existing Home

With a lack of affordable homes, it only makes sense for first-time homebuyers to consider buying and repairing entry-level homes that might be in need of repair. Because a lot of people do not want to purchase a house that requires repairs, first-time homebuyers might be able to save money by going this route. 

There are two separate home renovation loans available. The first is the FHA 203k loan, which is insured by the Federal Housing Administration. The other option is guaranteed by Fannie Mae, and it is called the HomeStyle loan. These loans can cover the cost of most home improvements, regardless of how large or small they might be. Both of these loans can be used to cover cosmetic and structural renovations. With access to this loan, it is possible for first-time homebuyers to begin work immediately after the closing process is done. 

Consider Taking Out A Home Renovation Loan

The FHA 203k is for primary residences only. The Fannie Mae HomeStyle loan can be used for either a primary residence or an investment property. They require a minimum credit score of 620 and a down payment of at least three percent. These loans could make it easier for first-time homebuyers to afford a house. 

 

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – May 16, 2022

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - May 16, 2022Last week’s economic reporting included readings and forecasts on inflation and the University of Michigan’s preliminary consumer sentiment survey. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims were also released.

Inflation Reports: Mixed Results for April

Commerce Department readings on consumer inflation showed mixed results in April; the Consumer Price Index dropped to 0.30 percent growth from the March reading of 1.20 percent inflation. Analysts expected 0.30 percent growth from March to April. The Core Consumer Price Index, which excludes volatile food and fuel sectors, rose by 0.60 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 0.30 percent growth. Analysts expected April’s reading for the Core Consumer Price Index to rise by 0.40 percent.

Year-over-year inflation dipped to 8.30 percent in April as compared to the March reading of 8.50 percent. This was the first decline in eight months and was caused by lower fuel prices. Analysts expected a year-over-year inflation rate of 8.10 percent for April. The year-over-year reading for the Core CPI, which excludes food and fuel sectors, showed  6.20 percent growth as compared to the March reading of 6.40 percent. The University of Michigan forecasted an inflation rate of 3.00 percent in the next five years.

Mortgage Rates, Jobless Claims Mixed

Freddie Mac reported higher average mortgage rates last week as the rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages rose by three basis points to 5.30 percent; the average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages fell by four basis points to 4.48 percent. The average rate for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages rose by two basis points to 3.98 percent. Discount points averaged 0.90  percent for fixed-rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable-rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose to 203,000 new claims filed last week as compared to 202,000 initial claims filed in the prior week. Continuing jobless claims were lower last week with 1.34 million ongoing claims filed; 1.39 million claims were filed during the prior week.

The University of Michigan released the preliminary edition of its Consumer Sentiment Index for May; consumer sentiment dropped to an index reading of 59.10 percent for May as compared to April’s reading of 65.20 percent. The war in Ukraine and high fuel prices continued to contribute to consumer skepticism about current economic conditions.

What’s Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic reports include homebuilder readings on housing market conditions, Commerce Department reports on building permits issued and housing starts are also scheduled. The National Association of Realtors® will release data on sales of previously-owned single-family homes. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and jobless claims will also be released.

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here’s How to Calculate It

Wondering How Much Mortgage You Can Afford? Here's How to Calculate ItMany people are aware of the financial commitment that is involved when investing in a home, but what that amounts to is different for every person. From what you can afford to what a lender will allow, there are plenty of details involved in determining the right home for you. If you’re not quite sure what the right price is, here’s how to approach home ownership and determine your debt-to-income.

Calculating Your Debt-To-Income Ratio

You may not know what your DTI ratio is, but it has a lot to with how much home you can afford. In order to calculate this amount, add together all the debts you owe each month and divide them by your monthly pre-tax income. For example, if your credit card is $150 and your rent is $900, your debt amount would be $1050. Divide this amount by your income, say $2500, to get 0.42. This means your DTI ratio is 0.42 or 42%.

What Your DTI Means

While a DTI in the high 20s or low 30s is good, anything that hovers above 43 percent may serve as a red flag to the lender. The lower your DTI ratio is, the more likely it is that a lender will approve your mortgage application since you’ll have the disposable income to deal with financial hurdles. If your dream home has you hovering close to this amount, it may be a sign that it’s a bit out of reach.

How Do You Want To Live?

It’s quite common to be taken over when you find your dream home and decide to commit. However, buying a home is a huge financial commitment, and if you’re buying more than you can afford it may drain your well-being over time. Instead of diving in, determine other expenses that are likely to come up in the next few years, whether it’s travel, a child or a new car. It’s important to have the home you want and budget when buying it, but you’ll still need to financial wiggle room in case something comes up.

There are a lot of factors involved in determining how much house you can afford, but by calculating your DTI ratio and being aware of your spending plans, you’ll be well on your way to an ideal price range. If you’re currently on the market for a home, contact one of our mortgage professionals for more information.

ARM Loans: What To Know

ARM Loans: What To KnowMany people are wondering what type of home loan is right for them, and one of the options is an ARM loan. This is an adjustable-rate mortgage. Typically, the rate is fixed for a certain amount of time, but it can change after that. Adjustable-rate mortgages will vary depending on the market. Is an ARM a smart loan option?  There are some situations where an ARM loan can be helpful, but people need to be careful with them.

The Risk Of An ARM Loan

First, it is important to understand why ARM loans contributed to the housing crash more than a decade ago. Many people took out ARM loans to buy houses that they could not afford. For example, if an ARM loan is a 5/30 loan, this means that it is a 30-year mortgage that has a fixed interest rate for the first five years. Then, after five years, the interest rate can change. There are typically caps on how much the interest rate can rise, but for many people, a three or four percent increase in the mortgage rate is enough to price them out of their homes.

What Are The Advantages Of An ARM Loan?

There are a few advantages that come from taking out an ARM loan. First, they usually have lower rates than fixed-rate mortgages. They might only be lower than a fixed-rate mortgage by a quarter point, but this adds up over time. Furthermore, they are a great option for real estate investors who are planning on buying and selling properties quickly. If someone is only planning on holding onto the property for a year or two, it might be a smart move to take out an ARM loan because the rate will not have a chance to go up before the property is sold. 

When To Take Out An ARM Loan For A House

Ultimately, people should consider taking out an ARM loan if they do not plan on living in the property for a long time. That way, they can sell the property before the interest rate increases. This could be a way to save money on property purchases and housing expenses, but there are risks involved, so be careful and speak with a mortgage professional to help guide you with the best loan option for you.

 

The Younger Generations Are Interested In Owning A Home

The Younger Generations Are Interested In Owning A HomeThe real estate market has been red hot this year, with many people looking to purchase a home because of record-low interest rates. This includes younger individuals, as younger generations are interested in owning a house for the first time. The past couple of years have been anything except normal, and the housing market has taken off, with demand far exceeding supply. Why is this taking place?

Record Low-Interest Rates Are Driving People Into the Market

Even though there are many reasons why people are interested in purchasing a home, incredibly low-interest rates are one of the biggest reasons. Many people are interested in taking out a home loan with a 30-year term. Potential homebuyers think that they may never see interest rates this low again. As a result, many are looking to capitalize on this opportunity before it disappears. This is increasing competition for homes on the market, driving up their values.

Interest Is Skyrocketing Among Younger Individuals

Record-low interest rates are appealing to just about everyone, but it is a particularly attractive option for young homebuyers. Many are just beginning their careers and are looking for ways to build wealth. One of the best ways to do so is through homeownership. Many research bureaus have noted that there is a sharp increase in younger individuals looking at houses. 

Many Are Facing An Uphill Battle

Even though there are many young individuals and families looking for houses, there are a number of challenges they will need to overcome. One of the biggest challenges is that there is a historic shortage of inventory. Even though potential homeowners might be able to lock in a low interest rate on a loan, they might not find a house they can purchase. It is difficult for young home buyers to compete against older individuals and families who can make a cash offer. If a bidding war takes place, younger homeowners rarely have the cash to come out on top. 

Asking For Help Is Key

Even though today’s mortgage rates are attractive, it is critical not to overpay for a house. Asking for help from a professional can help potential homeowners make the right decision.