Dodd-Frank’s Latest Gift: The Qualified Mortgage Rule

Dodd-Frank's Latest Gift: The Qualified Mortgage RuleThe Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act’s latest provision – the Qualified Mortgage rule – is going to effect on January 10, 2014.

While, like many of Dodd-Frank’s other features, its ability to protect customers remains to be seen, one of its impacts is already clear. Taking out a home loan just got harder.

The QM rule contains a set of provisions that, if followed, may protect lenders from lawsuits. They will also make it harder for customers to qualify to borrow money to buy a house.

Verifying Incomes

Lenders now have to follow stringent procedures to verify that borrowers can repay their loans. While many home loan lenders are already verifying and documenting borrower incomes, assets and debts, they will have to create additional paperwork to prove that they did their jobs.

DTI Caps

For a loan to be considered a qualifying mortgage, the borrower’s debt-to-income ratio can be no more than 43 percent. This means that if a borrower has $4,500 in gross monthly income, his total debt payments including his new mortgage cannot exceed $1,935 per month.

Previously, some lenders had been willing to go up to 45 percent.

Fee And Term Caps

Lenders will be less able to make creative loans, as well. Loans that meet the QM rule can be no longer than 30 years in length. They also cannot have closing costs and fees that exceed a cap of 3 percent of the loan’s balance.

Who Gets Impacted?

The good news is that the normal borrower taking out the normal loan might not notice the new QM rule. Borrowers that get squeezed are those that need to take out a loan that doesn’t fit the box laid out by the provisions. These include:

  • People in high-cost cities that need 40-year or interest-only mortgages to lower their payments.
  • Self-employed people and contractors that need to be able to borrow money on “stated” income without detailed verification.
  • Borrowers that can afford a loan but have other debts, like student loans.
  • Those that need non-traditional loans with high fees.

While the law still allow a lender to make a loan that isn’t a qualifying mortgage, given that the loan won’t have the same legal protections, its costs remain to be seen. This could end up pricing people with special needs out of the home loan market.

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3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment

3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment One of the challenges you will face when deciding how much money to put down on your new home is whether to put down a larger down payment or to take a bit of money from your down payment and use it to pay “discount points” to lower your interest rate.

There are pros and cons to doing both and each borrower’s situation will be different so it’s important to understand which option is best for your individual need.

Some Factors You Should Consider Include:

  • Cost Of Borrowing – generally speaking, to lower your interest rate will mean you pay a premium. Most lenders will charge as much as one percent (one point) on the face amount of your loan to decrease your mortgage interest rate. Before you agree to pay discount points, you need to calculate the amount of money you are going to save monthly and then determine how many months it will take to recover your investment. Remember, discount points are normally tax deductible so it may be important to talk to your tax planner for guidance.
  • Larger Down Payment Means More Equity – keep in mind, the larger your down payment, the less money you have to borrow and the more equity you have in your new home. This is important for borrowers in a number of ways including lower monthly payments, potentially better loan terms and possibly not having to purchase mortgage insurance depending on how much equity you will have at the time of closing.
  • Qualifying For A Loan – borrowers who are facing challenges qualifying for a loan should weigh which option (discount points or larger down payment) is likely to help them qualify. In some instances, using a combination of down payment and lower rates will make the difference. Your mortgage professional can help you determine which is most beneficial to you.

There is no answer that is right for every borrower. All of the factors that impact your mortgage loan and your overall financial situation must be considered when you are preparing for your home mortgage loan.

Talking with your mortgage professional and where appropriate your tax professional will help you make the decision that is right for your specific situation.

Beware Of Zombie Titles

Beware Of Zombie TitlesWith the economic downturn, anyone dealing in real estate quickly became familiar with previously little-known terms such as foreclosure and short sale. Now that the housing market is picking back up and people are moving on, a new term is coming to light — zombie titles.

The Zombie Title

This is when a home has been vacated because the owners defaulted on their loan and their bank started the foreclosure process. However, for some reason or another the bank never completed the foreclosure and sold the home.

So, when the city starts fining someone for the overgrown grass and dilapidated structure, the homeowner who thought they were finished with the property gets the bill.

A Home That Keeps Haunting

Homeowners think they don’t own the property any longer and therefore try to move on by rebuilding their credit score and finding a new place to live. It can be a rude awakening to find out that not only do they still own a home they could have been living in, but also its long vacancy has caused it to fall into disrepair.

Its Spooking The Neighborhood

These vacant homes can decrease the value of a neighborhood. If the bank or the un-suspecting homeowner are neither one taking care of the property, then it can become overgrown and an eyesore on the block. It becomes a problem with no solution because the owner won’t want to invest any money in fixing up the property when the bank could come back with the foreclosure at any time.

Nail Shut The Foreclosure Coffin

Homeowners who have foreclosed on a home should double check that their bank actually followed through to closing on a sale. They could contact their lender or check public property records just to make sure. Otherwise, they could be haunted by their housing nightmare all over again.

Don’t let the zombie title of a past property haunt your future! Check with your bank to make sure you’re free and clear of your foreclosure. If you’d like more information on zombie titles or have other questions, please contant your trusted mortgage professional.

When Is It A Good Idea To Use A Home Equity Loan?

When Is It A Good Idea To Use A Home Equity Loan?A home equity loan is a type of loan that allows you to use the equity of your home as collateral. It is an option that home owners have available to them and that some people use to pay for major expenses such as home renovations, college education or medical bills.

These types of loans became popular in 1996 because they provided a way for consumers to circumvent their tax charges for that year, which eliminated the deductions on the interest for most consumer purchases.

It is a good idea to leverage your shelter for cash? What is a legitimate reason for taking out a home equity loan? It can be tempting to use the equity you have in your property to pay for expensive luxuries, but there are only a few things that you should be spending a home equity loan on.

Home Renovation Projects

Home renovations are a popular reason why people take out a home equity loan. This idea actually makes sense, because making improvements to the home can greatly improve its value.

The renovation could pay for itself and more, when it comes to increasing the value of the property.Of course, the value of the home is also dependent on other factors beside the renovation, so there are no guarantees.

Debt Consolidation

Another reason why people take out home equity loans is so that they can combine all of their bills and debts into one, such as the credit card debt, retail credit debt and more. This can be advantageous, because the interest rate on a home equity loan is a lot cheaper.

Having a single monthly bill rather than having to keep track of several debts can also make things a lot simpler and improve your monthly cash flow.

Investing In Your Kids

Many parents have chosen to use their home equity loans to fund their child’s university or college education. With the extremely high costs of post-secondary education these days, this option can make a lot of sense.

However, if you are just about to consider retirement when your kids are going to college, you might want to look for scholarships or student loans instead so that you don’t reduce the nest egg you planned to retire on.

These are just a few things for homeowners to consider when it comes to home equity loans. To learn more about owning a home, you can contact me your trusted mortgage professional.

How Does An Interest-Only Mortgage Work?

How Does An Interest-Only Mortgage Work?When you have been researching your different options for a mortgage on your home, you might have heard of an “Interest-Only Mortgage”. What exactly does this type of mortgage mean and how does it work?

Usually when you take out a loan, you must pay back the capital debt (the amount you borrowed) and the interest on that debt. An interest-only mortgage offers a cheaper option for purchasing a property, because you will only be making payments on the interest and not the capital.

Compared to a repayment style mortgage where you are paying down the principle of the loan, an interest-only mortgage will have much lower monthly payments.

However, when you reach the end of the mortgage term with an interest-only mortgage, you will not have paid off any of the original principle of the loan. This means that you will still not be any closer to owning the home than when you started, whereas with a repayment mortgage you would be in full possession of the property.

You will reach the end of the loan term, still owing the lender $250,000 or whatever the value of the house was. Also, if you do not pay off that lump sum at that point, the lender will charge you interest on the entire loan for the full time.

From the description of how it works, it seems like there would never be a good situation for taking out an interest-only mortgage. However, if you are stretched financially and you are desperate to get onto the property ladder it might be a viable option. Some people take on an interest-only mortgage so that they can buy their first home, then when their income goes up they switch to a repayment mortgage.

These types of mortgages are often used by buy-to-let investors, who are able to claim their tax back against the mortgage interest. If this is your goal, you might find this strategy advantageous.

To find out more about mortgages and determine the best option for your needs when buying a home, contact your trusted mortgage professional.

4 Quick Tips On Becoming A Young Maine Real Estate Investor

4 Quick Tips On Becoming A Young Real Estate InvestorInvesting in property at a young age seems like a bit of a daunting prospect sometimes. Most young people don’t have a lot of disposable income, often have poor credit and perhaps even student loans.

When you are in your early 20s, you are not likely thinking about investing in property and are probably focusing on other things. However, investing in property at a young age can bring you a lot of advantages.

It requires a different approach and style and you might be the only one of your peers who is doing so, but you will definitely reap the benefits later on in life. When you invest long-term, you will start building your financial independence.

Some might believe that it is impossible for a young person to start investing so early in life, but investing in your 20s is completely possible.

You are not “too busy”, in fact you will find that you have even less spare time as your responsibilities grow when you get older. You will need a little bit of money to get started, but often you can purchase your first property with as little as 3.5% down.

If you want to get started early, here are some tips that will help you along the way:

  1. Get into very good saving habits from a young age by putting aside your money from first jobs. When you want to take out a mortgage, you will typically need to be able to show savings of 3% of your purchase price.
  2. Maintain a clean credit history and pay all of your bills on time in order to build a great credit rating, so that you can obtain a mortgage with a good rate.
  3. Make the most of technology and social media to learn more about investing in property and to find the best opportunities. You have a wealth of information on investing, all at your fingertips.
  4. Find an older mentor – someone with successful experience who can give you tips on how to choose the right investment.

Another main advantage to investing when you are young is that if anything goes wrong, you will have more time to make mistakes and still recover without affecting your retirement. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so why not get started?

Highest Existing Home Sales Since February 2007

Highest Existing Home Sales Since February 2007Sales of existing homes reached their highest volume in almost six years in August. The National Association of REALTORS reported Thursday that sales of existing homes rose 1.70 percent in August to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million existing homes sold.

This was the highest number of existing home sales since February of 2007.

August’s results exceeded estimates of 5.20 existing homes sold, which was based on July’s unrevised reading of 5.39 million existing homes sold.

The NAR also reported that the national median home price increased to $212,100 in August. This represents a year-over-year increase of 14.70 percent and was the largest annual increase in the national median home price since October 2005.

Sales concentrated in areas with higher home prices contributed to this significant increase in the national median home price.

Homebuyers Increase Despite Higher Home Rates

The reading for existing home sales in August suggests that homebuyers are not shying away from higher home loan rates; it may also indicate that the recent shortage of existing homes for sale is beginning to ease.

August’s higher number of existing home sales was attributed to home buyers anxious to lock in lower loan rates in an environment of rising mortgage rates. Also, economists had expected the Federal Reserve to begin reducing its monthly securities purchases, which did not happen.

Had the Fed tapered its securities purchases, long-term interest rates including mortgage rates, would likely have continued rising. The Fed may have decided not to reduce its monthly securities purchase in an effort to slow rising mortgage rates.

The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage has increased by more than one percentage point since May. Home buyers may respond to rising mortgage rates by delaying their home purchase to see if mortgage rates will fall, or they may rush to buy a home before rates go higher.

Mortgage Rates Affect Home Buyers In Three Ways:

1. As rates increase, monthly house payments also rise, which can impact affordability for first-time and moderate income buyers.

2. National unemployment rates remain higher than the Federal Reserve’s target rate of 6.50 percent. While home prices are increasing and other facets of the economy are showing improvement, jobless claims remain higher than average.

3. Mortgage credit requirements are strict; this keeps some would-be buyers from qualifying for a home loan.

These factors are offset by high demand for homes and short supplies of available homes and developed lots in some areas.