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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – July 21, 2014

Mythbusters: 5 Reasons Why Diet Sodas Might Not Be as Healthy as You ThinkLast week’s economic news offered a variety of indications that the economic recovery continues, but some readings missed their expected levels. The Philadelphia and New York branches of the Federal Reserve Bank reported higher than anticipated manufacturing for their respective regions and new jobless claims were lower than expected.

Fed Chair’s Senate Testimony Hints at Coming Interest Rate Hike

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified that the Fed might have to raise interest rates sooner than expected if the economy continues to outperform the Fed’s projections. Ms. Yellen said that the central bank presently estimates that the first rate increases will take place approximately one year from now.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Fed has repeatedly stated that members will continue to review data and economic conditions changing monetary policy. Ms. Yellen said in last week’s remarks that this holds true whether economic conditions improve or decline.

In other Fed-related news, the Philadelphia Fed released its manufacturing index for July with higher than expected results. The Philly Fed’s reading for July was 23.90 as compared to expectations of 16.50 and June’s reading of 17.80.

The New York Fed reported a similar trend for July with a reading of 25.60 as compared to an estimated reading of 17.50 and June’s reading of 19.30. This is good news after the Northeast’s economy was slammed by severe weather last winter. Weather conditions stalled area housing and labor markets.

Weekly jobless claims were lower at 303,000 than expectations of 310,000 new jobless claims and the prior week’s reading of 305,000 new jobless claims.

Home Builders Post Positive Confidence Reading for July

The National Association of Home Builders posted its highest builder confidence reading in six months for July with a reading of 53 against the expected reading of 50 and June’s reading of 49. Numbers above 50 indicate that more builders surveyed have a positive outlook than not.

Housing Starts for June were reported lower than expected at an annual level of 893,000 against an expected reading of 1.02 million and May’s reading of 985,000 housing starts.

Mortgage Rates Lower

According to Freddie Mac’s weekly survey, average mortgage rates were slightly lower last week. The average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage fell by two basis points to 4.13 percent. Discount points were 0.60 as compared to the prior week’s reading of 0.70 percent. The average rate for a 15-year fixed rate mortgage was 3.23 percent as compared to the previous reading of 3.24 percent.

Discount points for a 15-year mortgage averaged 0.50 percent against the prior week’s reading of 0.50 percent. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage dropped by two basis points to 2.87 percent with discount points unchanged at 0.40 percent.

The University of Michigan’s Consumer Sentiment Index for July fell just short of expectations at 81.3. Analysts expected a reading of 83.0, based on June’s reading of 82.50. Analysts said that although labor markets are improving, consumers continue to face rising costs for gasoline and food, which likely explained the dip in confidence for July.

What’s Ahead

This week’s economic news releases include Existing Home sales from the National Association of REALTORS®, New Home Sales from the Department of Commerce and the FHFA House Price Index. The Chicago Fed is set to release its National Activity Index. Freddie Mac mortgage rates and New Jobless Claims will be released Thursday as usual.

Why the Terms of a Home’s Sale Are Far More Important Than the Price Paid

Giving and Getting: Why the Terms of a Home's Sale Are Far More Important Than the Price PaidOne of the most significant factors home buyers and sellers focus on when buying real estate is the negotiated sales price in the purchase contract. While the sales price is undeniably important, the reality is that other terms in the sales contract may have more far-reaching and significant effects on the transaction.

In fact, with a closer look at some of the most important terms, you will see why you and your agent should actively negotiate for improved terms rather than a lower sales price.

Closing Costs

Some buyers and sellers will haggle over a few thousand dollars in the sales price without paying attention to the closing costs, but the fact is that the closing costs for a typical transaction may cost the buyer between two to five percent of the sales price on average.

A sales contract may be negotiated so that the seller assumes some or most of the closing costs, and this can result in considerable savings the buyer. Likewise, when a contract is negotiated in the interest of the seller, the seller may save thousands of dollars at closing if the contract states that the buyer is responsible for these costs.

The Appraised Value

In an ideal world, a home would appraise for the contracted sales price, but this is not always the case. A sales contract may be written with terms that allow for the sales price to be renegotiated after the appraised value is confirmed, and this may benefit both parties. Some sales contracts, however, state that the negotiated sales price is final regardless of the appraised value.

The Property Inspection

Many home buyers opt to obtain a property inspection to determine if there are hidden issues with the property structure, foundation, roof, air quality and other components. Some inspections reveal that a home is in fairly good condition, but others may reveal that a property needs thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of repairs.

Some sales contracts may be written so that the buyer may back out of a contract within a certain period of time after receiving the property inspection report or so that the terms of the sales contract may be renegotiated once the property inspection report has been completed.

Special Contingencies

A real estate transaction may extend for several weeks or even months while the buyer contracts with a lender, an appraiser, a property inspector and other third parties. During this period of time, many events can occur that may adjust the interest level or even the ability of the buyer and seller to fulfill the contract.

Some sales contracts are written so that the buyer may opt out of the contract within a certain period of time with minimal expense and regardless of other factors related to the appraisal and inspection.

Generally, there are standard terms found in many real estate sales contracts, but these terms can be adjusted by either party to benefit buyers or sellers. Those who are preparing to buy or sell property should actively communicate their needs and desires with their real estate agent so that the contract may be negotiated with terms most favorable to their needs.

What’s a ‘Qualified Mortgage’ or QM and Why is it so Important for New Home Buyers?

Understanding the 'Qualified Mortgage' or QM and Why It's Important to New Home BuyersAre you shopping for a home or a new mortgage? If you are interested in finding the best possible financial product, it is important to consider the benefits of selecting a Qualified Mortgage. With so many different types of loan products to choose from and financial terms to learn, schooling yourself on the mortgage market before you buy your first home or apply for your first refinance mortgage may seem like a daunting task.

Luckily, there are resources that are designed to help you learn the basics of products and terms so that all consumers have the power to inform themselves before securing a loan.

What is a Qualified Mortgage?

There are many different categories of home loans that individual loan products can fall into and one of these categories is simply referred to as a Qualified Mortgage. Qualified Mortgages, also referred to as the QM in the industry, is a product that has been approved as a qualified product because it has stable features that benefit you as a borrower.

All lenders who are interested in offering a Qualified Mortgage must make a good-faith effort to assess your income and your debt-to-income ratio to ensure that you are able to repay the loan before you take the loan out. All lenders must meet a long list of certain requirements that are free of harmful features that could affect a borrower’s ability to pay.

Common Requirements of Qualified Mortgages

The main purpose of a qualified mortgage is to protect borrowers from forms of predatory lending. The standards that the loan must meet are set by the Federal government. In addition to assessing the borrower’s ability to pay before approving an application, lenders must meet loan product requirements that are very specific in nature. Some of the harmful features that a QM product is not permitted to have include:

Negative Amortization: This feature affects consumers by allowing principal to increase over time.

Interest-only Periods: Where payments are only applied to interest on the money borrowed.

Balloon payment requirement: A requirement where borrowers must pay a large payment at the end of the loan term.

Long Terms: Loans cannot have terms longer than 30 years.

A Large Debt-to-Income Ratio: There is a limit in how much income that can go to monthly debt payments. This limit is 43% for a QM.


How Can a QM Benefit a New Home Buyer?

As you can see, there are safeguards built into a Qualified Mortgage that are designed to protect you from entering into a long-term binding loan contract that puts you in an unfair position. There are also legal protections that are designed to protect lenders who are committed to designing qualified mortgage products. You can sign a loan that you can afford to repay, have payments applied to your principal as well as interest, and become a homeowner without unnecessary stress. If you are interested in learning more, contact your local mortgage professional to review interest rates and loan terms.

Is Your Family Growing? Here’s A Guide to Selecting a Home and Property That Will Suit Your Needs

A Guide to Selecting a Home and Property That Will Suit Your Growing FamilyBoth seasoned homeowners and first-time buyers know making the decision to purchase a new home is not one that is taken lightly. There are so many things to consider, from choosing a home with growth potential to finding a community to support a family’s interests and lifestyle.

While the decisions may seem endless, don’t be discouraged. Develop a strategic approach to buying a home with our definitive guide to selecting a home and property that will suit a growing family’s needs. Use this guide, along with advice from a trusted real estate professional in your area, to get started on the path to home ownership.

Look For Neighborhoods With Growth Potential

Choosing the right location is one of the most grappled with decisions when it comes to buying a home. While some home-buyers aspire to “keep up with the Joneses,” purchasing a home in the “trendy” neighborhood of the moment, savvy home-buyers know the best bargains can be found in “up-and-coming” locales.

Skip the higher property values and congestion and search for a home in an unincorporated area with growth potential. This might require driving a few extra blocks for that morning Starbucks coffee, but this will easily be overlooked once the community grows (and your home value with it).

Unfinished Basements Are Your Friend

Sure, most home-buyers cringe when they enter the sometimes scary, always dark and lonely, unfinished basement. But the savvy home-buyer knows unfinished basements are their friend.

A basic renovation can take the space from ghastly to awesome. Unfinished basements provide a number of options for growing families and are a great way to add bathrooms, bedrooms and common areas for kids and teens.

Choose A Home With Income Potential

While the average buyer is interested in a single-family home, don’t discount homes with basement apartments or mother-in-law suites. These types of home configurations can lead to significant income potential and can help to offset the cost of a monthly mortgage payment.

Income potential doesn’t just include garage apartments and mother-in-law suites; it encompasses open space as well. Build a duplex or a guesthouse on extra land for a significant return on investment. Or, take advantage of special land grants to grow crops or house bees on unused acreage.

Think Long-Term When Choosing Schools

When choosing schools, think macro not micro. Remember to evaluate school districts at all levels: elementary, middle and high schools. Don’t choose a community based on the elementary school, if the middle and high schools are not as impressive.

A young child might be an elementary school student upon purchasing the home, but will matriculate through the school district during the course of a 30-year mortgage. Be sure to select a home in a community with a school district that can support youngsters at every level.

For more information about finding a home for a growing family, contact a real estate agent in your area.

Shopping for a Mortgage? How to Assess Your ‘Debt-to-Income Ratio’ and Why This Number Matters

Starting to Shop for a Mortgage? How to Assess Your 'Debt-to-Income Ratio' and Why This Number MattersThose who are looking to buy a home may want to start by shopping for a loan first. Having financing ahead of time may make it easier to get sellers to take a buyer seriously and help move along the closing process. For those who are looking to get a mortgage, the most important factor for having a mortgage application approved is the debt-to-income ratio of the borrower.

What Is a Debt-to-Income Ratio?

A debt-to-income ratio is simply the percentage of debt compared to the amount of income that a person brings in. If a person brought home $1,000 a month and had $500 worth of debt, that person would have a DTI of 50 percent. To improve the odds of getting a home loan, experts recommend that potential borrowers keep their DTI under 43 percent.

What Debt Will Lenders Look At?

The good news for borrowers is that lenders will disregard some debt when calculating a borrower’s DTI. For example, a health insurance premium would not be considered as part of your DTI while, and income is calculated on a pre-tax basis. This means that a borrower doesn’t have to factor in taxes when calculating their qualifying income.

What lenders will look at are any installment loan obligations such as auto loans or student loans as well as any revolving debt payments such as credit cards or a home equity line of credit. In some cases, a lender will disregard an installment loan debt if the loan is projected to be paid off in the next 10-12 months.

What Is Considered as Income?

Almost any source of income that can be verified will be counted as income on a mortgage application. Those who receive alimony, investment income or money from a pension or social security will have that money included in their monthly income when they apply for a loan. Wage income is also considered as part of a borrower’s monthly qualifying income. Self-employed individuals can use their net profit as income when applying for a mortgage. However, many lenders will average income in the current year with income from previous years.

How Much Debt Is Too Much Debt?

Many lenders will only offer loans to those who have a debt-to-income ratio of 43 percent. However, government backed loans may allow borrowers who have a DTI of 50-55 to qualify for a loan depending on their income and other factors. Talking to a lender prior to starting the mortgage application process may be able to help a borrower determine if his or her chosen lender offers such leeway.

A borrower’s DTI ratio may be the biggest factor when a lender decides whether to approve a mortgage application. Those who wish to increase their odds of loan approval may decide to lower their DTI by increasing their income or lowering their debt. This may make it easier for the lender and the underwriter to justify making a loan to the borrower.