Friday, August 30, 2013

Playing the Harp....

What You Don't Know About HARP 2.0

Earlier this year, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced a plan to "market" the Home Affordable Refinance Plan to the public more aggressively. Like many others, the groups believe that HARP-eligible homeowners are either unaware of the program, its benefits, or both.
This website receives a lot of emails from homeowners wondering about HARP and whether they're eligible to refinance. Here are some of the common HARP misconceptions.

I can't refinance with HARP if I have a second mortgage.

Yes, you can refinance with HARP if you have a second mortgage. However, in accordance with HARP guidelines, you cannot combine your two mortgages in a cash-out refinance.
To refinance your first mortgage via HARP, but leave your second mortgage unchanged, your second mortgage lender will agree to subordinate its mortgage, which is a fancy way of saying that second mortgage lender will give permission for you to replace the existing first lien on title. 

I have no equity in my home so I can't refinance with HARP.

Yes, you can refinance your home via HARP if you have no equity. That's exactly the premise of the program! Via HARP 2.0, homeowners can refinance no matter how far underwater they are with their mortgage. This is among the reasons why the HARP refinance has been so popular in Las Vegas, Nevada; Phoenix, Arizona; and other hard-hit areas. HARP is the "underwater mortgage program" -- of course you can use it when you have no home equity. 

I was already turned down for HARP. I won't get approved if I apply for HARP again.

Even if you've been turned down for HARP, it would make sense to apply for HARP again. This is because HARP-approved lenders often use in-house variations of the official HARP guidelines and those variations are different between banks. You may be approved for a loan for a loan

I can't refinance my home via HARP because it's not my primary residence.

HARP 2.0 can be used to refinance homes of any occupancy type. Investment properties can be refinanced via HARP, and so can second homes and vacation properties. HARP can be used in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and all U.S. territories. 

I can't use HARP because my lender doesn't offer it.

Not all lenders offer The Home Affordable Refinance Program; this is true. However, U.S. homeowners are free to refinance with any HARP-approved lender. This freedom was among the improvements of HARP 2.0. There are thousands of lenders making HARP 2.0 mortgages. You can get mortgage rates for a HARP loan here.

I can't use HARP because I am not behind on my mortgage payments.

The HARP refinance program is not meant for homeowners who are behind or delinquent with their mortgage payments. HARP can only be used for homeowners who are current. The HARP program is not meant to save a person's home from foreclosure. Homeowners facing difficulty with payment should contact their loan servicer immediately.

I can't use HARP because my loan has mortgage insurance.

You can use HARP 2.0 for loans with existing private mortgage insurance (PMI). This is a change from HARP 1.0 and applies to loans with both borrower-paid mortgage insurance (BPMI) and lender-paid mortgage insurance (LPMI).  However, it can be difficult to find banks to offer a PMI program. If you try to refinance your loan with PMI and you are turned down by a lender, apply again somewhere else. You may get a better outcome.

Are You HARP 2.0-Eligible But Don't Know It?

There are an estimated remaining 4-plus million households nationwide who could refinance via HARP, but haven't. Some of these 4 million households are unaware that HARP 2.0 exists. Others are unaware that they'd qualify.

 Use the links below to determine if your loan is a Fannie or Freddie Mac owned loan. For assistance you can call 877-276-6400 Ext 101 Gene Neal

Fannie Mae

Freddie Mac

If your home is a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac owned loan email me back so we can prepare your paperwork before the rush.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Are you ready to purchase?

Pending Home Sales Index : Forward-Looking

Each month, the National Association of REALTORS® publishes its Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking housing market indicator.
The Pending Home Sales Index is meant to measure the number of homes which are newly under contract. Data has shown that the number of homes newly under contract positively correlates to the number of closed sales two months into the future, which makes the Pending Home Sales Index a reasonable proxy for the future health of U.S. housing.
When the Pending Home Sales Index rises, another National Association of REALTORS® report -- the Existing Home Sales report -- tends to rises too, but on a 60-day delay. Similarly, when the Pending Home Sales Index shows a retreat in homes under contract, two months later, the Existing Home Sales report often drops, too.
It's this predictive quality which makes the Pending Home Sales Index unique.
Unlike other widely-cited home valuation trackers such as the Case-Shiller Index and the FHFA's Home Price Index; and home sale trackers such as the government's monthly New Home Sales report which cover what has already happened in housing, the Pending Home Sales Index tells us what will happen in housing.
80% of homes under contract close within 60 days. Most of the rest close in months 3 and 4. The Pending Home Sales Index correlates to future closing.

2013 Housing Market Remains Strong For Sellers

The National Association of REALTORS® shows the July Pending Home Sales Index at 109.5, a slight decrease from the month prior and the second straight month for which the index fell.
However, this doesn't mean the reading is weak. Any time that the Pending Home Sales Index beats 100, it's significant. "100" is the index benchmark value which correlates to the housing market's performance in 2001, the year the index launched.
2001 was a "good year" for housing. When the Pending Home Sales Index beats 100, then, it suggests that today's housing market is performing better than the one from 2001.
It's been 15 months since the Pending Home Sales Index fell short of 100.
Today's buyers have undoubtedly experienced the effects of an improving market. Homes are selling rapidly at prices close to, or above, their original listing price; multiple-offer situations are more common; and sellers have negotiation leverage over buyers in many U.S. markets.

How Much Home Can You Afford In Today's Market?

Planning to buy a home this year or in 2014? Despite rising home prices and homeownership costs, the market remains ripe for buyers.
Purchasing power is near all-time highs and low- and no-downpayment mortgages are readily available from U.S. lenders. One such program -- the Conventional 97 -- allows for a 3% downpayment and a downpayment gift, and is available in all 50 states. FHA loans are popular, too.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.  

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

So you want a Condo?

Mortgages For Condominiums

Getting a mortgage for a condo can sometimes be a challenge. Last decade, lenders were burned on condos for a variety of reasons and so they've bounced back on condo loans a bit more cautious and a bit more wise.
Today's buyers of condos have fewer financing choices as compared to buyers of single-family detached homes.
As one example, buyers using conventional mortgage financing via Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac pay a premium for all loans with less than 25% equity. For this reason, buyers of condos and co-ops are encouraged to cap loans at 75% loan-to-value (LTV).
Condo loans above 75% LTV remain acceptable and approvable, however, the accompanying mortgage rate and/or closing costs will likely be higher.
VA loans for condos are available, too. VA loans allow 100% financing with no mortgage insurance required. Mortgage rates tend to be relatively low with a VA loan because all VA loans are guaranteed by the government.
In nearly all cases, though, buyers of condominiums will want to verify a building's warrantability.
"Warrantability" is a mortgage term whether mortgages in a given condo building are eligible for purchase by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Non-warrantable condos are sometimes denied for funding, but not always.
A building's warrantability is based on a host of traits, some of which include :
  1. No person owns more than 10% of the building units
  2. No more than 50% of the building's units are active rental units
  3. No more than 20% of the building is dedicated to commercial/retail space
To determine whether a building is warrantable or non-warrantable, mortgage lenders will often use a "condominium questionnaire", which addresses the lendability of a building.
Non-warrantable condos can still be financed, it should be mentioned. Product availability, however, is limited and mortgage rates are sometimes higher.
According to the most recent Case-Shiller Index, home values climbed 11.9 percent nationwide for the 12 months ending June 2013. This jump marks the second-largest one-year increase in home valuation since the Case-Shiller Index launched 26 years ago.
May 2013 was the largest.

Each of the Case-Shiller Index's 20 tracked cities posted annual gains in June, led by Las Vegas, Nevada; San Francisco, California; and Phoenix, Arizona. Home valuations in the Las Vegas are up 25% from 12 months ago, which claws back against the heavy losses sustained last decade in the area.
The "last place" finisher in the June 2013 Case-Shiller Index? New York City.

As compared to one year ago, home values in the city's five boroughs -- Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island -- rose just 3.3 percent, which is well below the U.S. national average.
However, the Case-Shiller headline figure tells just part of the story.

In New York City, the market is thick with condominiums and co-ops and the Case-Shiller Index ignore those homes types in its calculations. If you were to add New York City condos and co-ops to the Case-Shiller Index data, we'd see that the city is performing quite well, actually.

In New York, condo values are up 7.7 % since last year -- more than double the city's Case-Shiller Index reading. Similar improvements are present in other Case-Shiller Index markets, too.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.  

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How To Get An FHA Mortgage

The FHA mortgage program is technically an insurance program. This is because the FHA is not a mortgage lender -- it's an agency which provides insurance to lenders for defaults or loan foreclosures.
In order for a loan to be insurable, the lender must be FHA-approved and the specific loan must be underwritten to the standards set forth in the official FHA mortgage guidelines.
FHA mortgage guidelines are among the most forgiving of all mortgage loan types. There is no minimum credit score requirement. Downpayments can be as little as 3.5% on a home. The waiting period after a bankruptcy, short sale or foreclosure can be as little as 12 months.

How To Get An FHA Mortgage

So, how can you get an FHA loan? Here’s a step-by-step guide to what you’ll need to do.

1. Discuss Your Ideas With A Lender

It's easy to research loans on your own, and that's a terrific way to begin educating yourself about mortgages. However, most information on the internet is general in nature and does not apply to your situation specifically. For example, you may earn non-standard income or show abnormal activity in your bank statements.
You can't know for certain whether you'll qualify for an FHA loan until you talk to a lender.
When you speak with a lender, he will review your financial situation with you and alert you to any ideas which may need to be addressed prior to closing. This can include talking through collection items on your credit report and judgments. During this stage, the more information that you share with your lender, the closer you'll be to getting FHA loan approval later on.
Note that you do not have to select your lender at this stage. It's just important that you speak to somebody who can assist,

2. Get Pre-Approved For An FHA Loan

After you've spoken with a lender, you'l want to begin the pre-approval process. As part of your pre-approval, the lender will tell you the maximum amount you can borrow with an FHA loan given your income, your debts and the expected monthly escrow of homes in the area.
Once pre-approved, your lender will provide you with an official pre-approval letter. Use this letter to prove that you can purchase homes up to a certain purchase price. Keep your pre-approval letter handy for your real estate agent and potential home sellers.
Pre-approvals are often provided at no cost, and asking for one does not obligate you to go ahead with the loan, or the lender.

3. Shop For A Home

There are many ways to shop for a home. You can work through a REALTOR®; you can search via the popular online real estate portals; you can use your local newspaper's real estate section; or, you can use a combination of all three. The good news is that you're pre-approved and  know exactly what you can afford.
When you find a home and make a purchase offer, be sure your contract includes a "financing contingency". Financing contingencies allow you to cancel the contract in the event you are unable to secure a loan. Hopefully, your financing contingency won't need to be invoked but it's important to always have that protection.

4. Select Your FHA-Approved Mortgage Lender

Once you're under contract, it's time to turn your pre-approval into an actual approval.
First, shop for FHA mortgage rates. This is an important step because the FHA does not set mortgage rates -- lenders do. There can be a big difference in rates between lenders, too, so get at least two rate quotes.

After you've selected a lender, provide whatever paperwork that lender requests then let the lender do his job of preparing your loan for closing. During this time, an appraisal of your home will be ordered. This is not the same as a home inspection, though. You should still arrange to have the home inspected on your own. Home inspections can reveal physical defects in a home which you may not have noticed otherwise.
Your real estate agent can refer an inspector, if you need one.

5. Closing Your FHA Loan

Once your loan is approved, you'll be issued a "cleared-to-close" by your lender, and you'll be ready to go to settlement. Often called "closing", your settlement may occur at a title company near your home or office, or in an attorney's office, or in your current home -- each closing can be different.
After closing is complete, you will receive copies of your signed loan documents, which will include directions on where to send your payments and how to establish an auto-pay for your mortgage, if that's your preferred method of payment.
You will also receive keys to your new home.

Take Your First FHA Loan Step

FHA loans account for a significant share of the U.S. housing market and it's easy to understand why. The forgiving nature of the FHA mortgage guidelines, combined with the low rates available via the program, can make it a compelling mortgage option.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.     

Monday, August 26, 2013

Rates tripped up?

Mortgage rates fell between Monday and Friday of last week. However, if you only saw mortgage rates as reported by Freddie Mac's weekly Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS), you'd think rates did the reverse.
Freddie Mac's survey of 125 banks conducted during the early part of the week showed the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate rising 0.18 percentage points to 4.58% last week, the highest reading for the 30-year fixed in more than 100 weeks of surveys.
The 15-year fixed rate showed a slightly smaller jump, moving to 3.60%, widening the historically huge gap between the two rates.
Meanwhile, the difference between Freddie Mac's Primary Mortgage Market Survey and the market's actual movement throughout the calendar week highlights just how quickly mortgage rates are moving. Freddie Mac's survey missed all of Friday's market gains.
Since May of this year, Wall Street has shown concern for the future of QE3. QE3 is the Federal Reserve's long-standing mortgage market stimulus plan via which the central banker purchases $40 billion of U.S.-issued mortgage-backed securities (MBS) monthly.
These purchases help to hold bond prices high and bond prices and U.S. mortgage rates move in opposite directions. In this way, QE3 has helped to suppress mortgage rates on everything from conforming and VA loans to FHA and USDA product.
Because the U.S. economy is growing, though, the Federal Reserve has said it may soon "taper" QE3 down to zero. There's disagreement within the Fed, though, about when this taper should begin.
It's among the reasons why mortgage rates have been volatile.
Some Fed members believe QE3 should end later this year. Some believe it should stretch into 2014 and beyond. The debate is affecting mortgage rates for buyers and refinancing households to taper QE3 would mean to reduce demand for U.S. mortgage bonds, which lowers the value of MBS holdings.
Wall Street wants to get ahead of that trade -- but not too far ahead to miss near-term gains.  Wall Street is unsure whether it should be betting with QE3 or against QE3.
Each sign of economic strength appears to lift mortgage rates higher. Each sign of weakness drops them lower. This is exactly how MBS markets are supposed to behave. However, because of QE3 and its sheer size, the stakes are much bigger.
Mortgage rates are carving out wide ranges daily -- three times the normal speed.

Why Mortgage Rates Might Fall This Week

It's hard to shop for today's lowest rates when rates are always changing. This week, with a fair amount of economic data due for release, rates are expected to move on data. This can be easier on shoppers than when rates move on market sentiment.
Here's a review of this week's most important economic events. In general, any event which "beats" a Wall Street estimate will result in mortgage rates moving higher. Events which fall short will result in mortgage rates moving down.
  • Monday : Durable Goods; Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey
  • Tuesday : Case-Shiller Index; Consumer Confidence; Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index
  • Wednesday : Pending Home Sales Index
  • Thursday : Jobless Claims; Q2 GDP; 
  • Friday : Chicago PMI; Personal Income & Outlays; Consumer Sentiment
In addition, there are a handful of Fed speakers scheduled for this week including San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank President John Williams (Tuesday); Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker (Thursday); St Louis Federal Reserve Bank President James Bullard (Thursday); and Bullard again on Friday.
Each Fed speaker has an opportunity to shift rates -- just listen for the talk of QE3.

Take A Gut-Check On Mortgage Rates

As compared to last year, mortgage rates have moved higher. However, for today's U.S. home buyers, rates remain attractive. The same is true for the millions of still-eligible HARP 2.0 homeowners nationwide.
See how today's fast-moving mortgage rates fit your household budget. Get started with a rate quote today. It's fast, it's free and there's no obligation or cost.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.     

Friday, August 23, 2013

FHA Provisions

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was established in 1934, a period of "heavy renting". The U.S. was emerging from The Great Depression. Just 4 in 10 households owned their homes.
At the time, mortgage terms were onerous. To get a loan meant to make a 50% downpayment; to agree to a loan term of 5 years or fewer; and, to make a "balloon" payment to the bank after the mortgage's first few years.
Few people could meet these terms so the FHA spawned a new method of finance.
Via its Mortgage Insurance Premium (MIP) program, the FHA created a self-sufficient insurance fund through which mortgage lenders could be "paid back" in the event of a loan default.
The FHA created a series of rules known as the FHA mortgage guidelines. The group agreed to provide to FHA-approved lenders insurance for all loans meeting the minimum standards as set forth by the guidelines.
The FHA MIP system gave banks confidence to make better loans with better terms for U.S. home buyers. Nationally, downpayment requirements dropped, loan terms lengthened, and mortgage rates were made affordable. Homeownership rates climbed.
Today, more than 80 years after its creating, the FHA remains as the only federal agency which has never taken even a dollar from U.S. taxpayers. The FHA is entirely self-sufficient.

U.S. Home Buyers Choose FHA Loans

In today's expanding economy, U.S. home buyers have mortgage loan options.
Conventional loans are available via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; Rural Housing Loans are available via the USDA; 100% loans are available via the Department of Veterans Affairs and its VA loan. Even jumbo mortgages and private loans have made a comeback.
However, the FHA loan remains in high demand. It's combination of low rates, low downpayment, and flexible guidelines has made it one of most common loan choices for home buyers today.
There are benefits to choosing an FHA loan. Here are some of the biggest.

FHA Mortgage Insurance Premiums

It may seem odd to call FHA mortgage insurance a benefit since it doesn't come free, however, FHA MIP is what makes the program possible. Without the MIP, FHA-approved lenders would have little reason to make FHA-insured loans. However, as a homeowner or home buyer, you have ways to limits your FHA MIP costs. You can use a 15-year mortgage term, for example; or make a downpayment of at least 5 percent. As a bonus perk, FHA-backed homeowners with loans from before June 2009 get access to special reduced MIP rates.

FHA Allows A 3.5% Downpayment

For today's home buyers, there are only a few mortgage options which allow for downpayments of five percent or less. The FHA is one of them. With an FHA mortgage, you can make a downpayment as small as 3.5%. This benefits home buyers who don't have a lot of money saved up for downpayment; and, home buyers who would rather save money for moving costs, emergency funds, or other needs.

FHA Allows 100% Gift Funds

The FHA is aggressive with respect to gifts for downpayment. Very few loans programs will allow your entire downpayment for a home to come from a gift. The FHA will. Via the FHA, your entire 3.5% downpayment can be a gift from parents or another relative, an employer, an approved charitable group, or a government homebuyer program. If you're using a downpayment gift, though, you'll need to follow the process.

The FHA Doesn't Require A SSN

Not every home buyer will have a valid social security number and, according to the FHA, that's okay. FHA guidelines permits loans to employees of the World Bank and foreign embassies, for example. The FHA will also insure loans for non-permanent resident aliens.

There Are Many FHA-Approved Lenders

FHA loans can be funded by any FHA-approved lender. This includes mortgage lender, savings-and-loans institutions, and credit unions. The marketplace for FHA loans is giant, which creates competitive pressure among lenders to offer low FHA rates and low FHA fees. It pays to "shop around" on an FHA loan. Furthermore, because different banks use different methods to underwrite, your FHA loan can be declined by Bank A but approved by Bank B. If you meet the rules of the FHA, you can apply until your loan get approved!

There Are Many FHA Loan Products

Via the FHA, you can get a mortgage of almost any type. The agency is best-known for its traditional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, but the FHA also offers a 15-year fixed rate loan as well as a series of adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs). In addition, the FHA insures purchase-and-improvement loans for when you want to buy a home that needs repairs; 203k construction loans for when you want to buy a home that's newly built; and energy-efficiency loans for when you want to finance the costs of energy-efficiency improvements into your loan. The FHA also provides a full line of FHA refinance products.

The FHA Insures All Property Types

FHA home buyers are able to purchase any home type in any U.S. neighborhood -- whether in the 50 United States, the District of Columbia, or any U.S. territory. The FHA will insure single-family detached homes, 2-unit homes, 3-unit homes, 4-unit homes, condominiums, mobile homes and manufactured homes.

The FHA Has Flexible Credit Standards

Of all the available loan types in today's U.S. market, FHA loans are among the most forgiving with respect to credit standards. The FHA does not require "perfect credit" and even instructs its approved lenders to look beyond isolated "credit events" and to consider a borrower's complete credit history. Even borrowers with a recent foreclosure, short sale, deed-in-lieu or bankruptcy can be eligible for FHA financing.

The FHA Allows Larger Loan Sizes

A "loan limit" is the maximum allowable loan size for an area and, as another FHA benefit, FHA loan limits are much higher than conventional loan limits in many parts of the country. In Orange County, California, for example, or New York City, the FHA will insure up to $729,750. By contrast, conventional loans stop at $625,500. For 2-unit, 3-unit and 4-unit homes, FHA loan limits are even higher -- ranging up to $1,403,400.

FHA Loans Are Assumable

A little-known FHA benefit is that the agency will allow a home buyer to "assume" the existing FHA mortgage on home being purchased. The buyer must still qualify for the mortgage with its existing terms but, in a rising mortgage rate environment, it can be attractive to assume a home seller's loan. 5 years from now, for example, a buyer of an FHA-insured home can "inherit" a seller's sub-4 percent mortgage rate.

How Much FHA Loan Can You Afford?

The FHA mortgage program accounts for a significant share of U.S. home buyer loan activity and, during the first three month of 2013, the typical FHA loan averaged 94% loan-to-value. The program is in high demand among low-equity homeowners and buyers.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.    

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fed Minutes and the Mortgage Rate Effect

One week after reaching their widest spread in history, the 15-year fixed rate mortgage and the 30-year fixed rate mortgage are both worsening. However, the reasons aren't economic -- they're psychological.
Wednesday, the Federal Reserve released the minutes from its most recent meeting. The report gives few hints about the removal of the Fed's market stimulus programs. Wall Street was hoping for more direction.
In the absence of new information, mortgage rates are rising.

QE3 May End In 2014; Mortgage Rates May Rise Sooner

Eight times annually, the Federal Reserve meets to discuss monetary policy. Three weeks after each meeting, the group releases minutes from the meeting. The minutes are an in-depth review of the conversations and debates which help to shape our nation's monetary policy.
The minutes are a complement to the Fed's post-meeting press statement, which is far more concise. The latter can be measured in paragraphs; the former by pages. The Fed Minutes and its extra details are the closest that any of us get to "being in the room" when the Federal Reserve meets.
Some of the Fed's discussion is a retread. Some of it's a shift in thinking. July's minutes revealed little new information.
The Fed remains cautious regarding economic growth, believing that more data is required before conclusions can be drawn. There is also more pessimism among Fed members than in prior months -- growth expectations for 2014 have been pared.
Housing, however, singled out for its strength. Rising mortgage rates have yet to have an adverse effect of housing and several Fed members expressed confidence that the home purchase market would continue to fare well even as mortgage rates rise.
Even still, the group acknowledged how rising rates may affect refinances -- an important part of the housing economy, too. Refinancing households typically reduce their monthly payments, which can spur consumer spending.
The Fed is wary of mortgage rates rising too high.

Fed : U.S. Housing Now Boosting Economic Output

Federal Reserve members also discussed inflation and the U.S. labor market at its July meeting. These two topics are of particular consequence to the Fed because of the group's dual-mandate charter to maximize employment and maintain stable prices.
Inflation continues to run well below the Fed's two-percent target rate; low enough to cause concern, it seems. When inflation is too low, it's known as deflation and deflation can be as bad for the economy, too.
To decrease the likelihood of deflation, the Federal Reserve voted to keep the Fed Funds Rate in a range near zero percent after its last meeting. A low Fed Funds Rate is considered inflationary.In addition, the Fed said that the labor market was improving, but that compensation gains remained modest despite rising payrolls data.
However, none of these comments did as much to affect mortgage rates as the Federal Reserve's remarks on QE3.
QE3 is shorthand for "Quantitative Easing, Round 3". It's a program by which the Federal Reserve purchases $40 billion in mortgage-backed bonds monthly in the open market.
QE3 was announced in September 2012 and the program was specifically launched without an "end date". QE3 would last until it wasn't needed, the Fed said. With a new $40 billion monthly buyer in the market, bond prices rose which drive mortgage rates down.
Within 10 weeks of QE3's start, U.S. mortgage rates had dropped to their lowest levels in history -- a predictable effect. More recently, though, mortgage rates have climbed. There's a belief QE3 will soon end.
Fed member remain divided on the issue :
  • Some want to use QE3 to raise the rate of inflation
  • Some want to leave QE3 in place until the labor market shows "further improvement" and stability
  • Some want the Fed to eliminate QE3 "in the near future".
The non-consensus among Fed members has Wall Street scrambling. QE3 will likely end soon, investors think.
For todays home buyers and rate shoppers, this is not good news. Mortgage rates are rising as QE3 may taper down.

Should You Lock Your Mortgage Rate?

The next Federal Reserve meeting is scheduled for September 17-18, 2013. The Fed is not expected to add new market stimulus at that time, nor is it expected to reduce or remove the stimulus which already exists (and this includes QE3). Mortgage rates will continue to change, though.
It's all eyes on QE3. The longer that the program lasts, the longer rates will be suppressed. Time may be running out.  Get today's mortgage rates now. It's fast, it's free, and there's no obligation.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Choose a term 10, 15, 20, 30

It's important to select the right mortgage terms in order to avoid taking out a home loan that doesn't fit your financial needs.  You need to pay careful attention to the mortgage term length you select, as the length of your loan will have a significant impact on its affordability.
The terms of your mortgage will significantly affect your financial stability for decades to come.  For example, a mortgage you can afford will help you build up equity that can be accessed as needed in the years to come.  A mortgage you can't afford may cost you tens of thousands of dollars in losses when you lose your home or have to sell at a deficit.
Determine what you can afford to pay as monthly payments each month and set a limit for yourself.  Your interest rate and credit score will affect what you have to pay, but nothing affects your monthly payment amount more than the length of your loan term.  Don't try to figure out what term length to choose until you know what you can afford.  Review the following loan term options and discuss each of them with your lender:

10 Year Mortgage

This loan type is fairly uncommon but is still sometimes used for those who have an extremely high income and want to pay off their house as quickly as possible.  The payments for a 10 year mortgage are very high, but could potentially save you hundrends of thousands of interest dollars.

15 Year Mortgage

This is the most common "short" mortgage term length. Taking out a 15 year mortgage is beneficial because the associated interest rates are typically lower than interest rates on other loans. You'll also save a significant amount of money by having reduced interest costs when compared to mortgages with higher term lengths.

20 Year Mortgage

The 20 year mortgage has a lower interest rate than the 30 or 40 year mortgage, but has higher monthly payments. The 20 year mortgage is a great option for homeowners who wish to refinance but do not want to have another 30 year mortgage.

30 Year Mortgage

Overall, this is the most common mortgage for American homebuyers as it's highly affordable.  Mortgage rates tend to be reasonably low and monthly payment amounts tend to fit within the income brackets of most borrowers.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Harp 3.0?

HARP stands for Home Affordable Refinance Program. It's the government's refinance program for underwater U.S. homeowners.
As home values climb nationwide, fewer U.S. homeowners are requesting high LTV mortgages.
Through the first 5 months of 2013, the majority of HARP mortgage queries called for loan-to-values of 107% or lower.
HARP was first launched in 2009 as part of a broader economic stimulus program. Dubbed "The Obama Refi", it promised homeowners $3,000 in annual savings, on average; the result of refinancing loans to lower mortgage rates.
As part of the HARP program, lenders were instructed to refinance homes without respect to that home's value, so long as the loan size divided by the home's valuation remained at 125% or less. Via the Home Affordable Refinance Program, private mortgage insurance (PMI) coverage on a home was to remain as-is; and, closing costs were to remain limited.
Even if you lost your 20% downpayment to the housing market, you could refinance via the Home Affordable Refinance Program without incurring PMI.
In its first 3 years, there were more than 1 million HARP mortgage closings as the program helped U.S. households, U.S. banks, and gave a boost to the broader U.S. economy. As a result of HARP's success, in late-2011. the government expanded the program to help reach even more U.S. homeowners. The new iteration of HARP was quickly assigned the nickname "HARP 2.0".

HARP 2.0 : Closings Soar With Unlimited LTV

HARP 2.0 was announced in late-2011 and made widely available by March 2012. The program removed the loan-to-value limitations of the original Home Affordable Refinance Program while simplifying the cross-lender refinancing.
HARP 1 made it a challenge to refinance a loan from Bank of America to Wells Fargo, for example. With HARP 2, the hurdles were removed.
Not surprisingly, HARP 2 outperformed its predecessor.
Whereas HARP 1 closed one million loans in its first 3 years of existence, HARP 2 closed 1 million loans in just its first 12 months, a large percentage, of course, of which were the ultra-high LTV loans not possible via the original Obama Refi.
This was especially true in states such as Nevada and Florida where home values had dropped the most toward the end of last decade. In these hard-hit states, the Home Affordable Refinance Program loans dominated refinance activity, accounting for more than half of all closings statewide.

HARP 3.0 : Focus On Non-Fannie Mae / Non-Freddie Mac Mortgages?

In 2013, though, the need for ultra-high LTV loans has waned. Home values are rising in many U.S. cities as the housing market expands. There are far fewer requests for HARP 2 loans as compared to a similar period last year.
This website has fielded more than 56,000 HARP mortgage queries since HARP 2 launched. The difference between last year's queries and this year's queries is stark. Through August 2013, LTV requests are overwhelmingly lower as compared to 2012.
And, LTVs for HARP loans fall, the program's reach may become limited -- especially because the Home Affordable Refinance Program does not allow for loans with loan-to-values below 80%.
For this reason, Congress may be moved to make changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program in order to boost the number of HARP-eligible households.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Monday, August 19, 2013

Preparing for your purchase

Buying a home could be one of the most complicated financial transactions of your life. If a home purchase is anywhere in your future, it's never too early to check your credit and do what you can to strengthen it. Experts say that credit scores above 750 get the best rates and anything below 640 to 660 may not even qualify for a loan.
Before falling in love with a house, determine your budget. FHA loans dictate that home payments can't exceed 31 percent of your income. Don't forget taxes and insurance as well.

Take the time to get pre-approved before you begin looking at homes. In fact, many real estate agents won't work with you until you have received pre-approval for a mortgage. You might find the perfect home, and then find out the bank denied your loan application. This heartbreaking scenario wastes your time and your agent's time, too.
Going through the mortgage-approval process can be a frustrating experience, so be prepared. In addition to all of the paperwork, you have to answer a lot of very pointed questions about your income, net worth, and credit worthiness. If you have a 20 percent down payment, a high credit score, and a steady job, then you have a better chance of being pre-approved for a loan.
Having the largest down payment possible will work in your favor. You may need to start saving months, or even years, in advance to get a significant chunk of money saved. Create a budget that will keep you on track to pay down debt and save for a down payment.
It’s an obvious no-no, even if you aren’t applying for a loan. But overdraft charges are red flags to underwriters, so make sure you walk the line from here on out.
If you're not planning on staying in your home more than seven to ten years, think about renting. You may still decide to buy, but you need to understand the cost of purchasing and maintaining a home. Investigate the economic difference between buying and renting.

Don't wait until after you have found an acceptable property to begin determining what your choices and options are. Having your mortgage picture clear prior to looking for houses can only strengthen your bargaining position when it comes time to negotiate for the home you want. If two different buyers are interested in the same house, one who has been pre-qualified for a mortgage and the other who plans to do it in the future, you can guess which buyer will have the stronger bargaining power.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Friday, August 16, 2013

Which one is best for you HARP or HAMP

Essentially, the federal government created the HAMP program in order to aid homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure.  HAMP does this by subsidizing lender modifications to borrower home mortgages. In order to qualify for a HAMP modification, you must satisfy the following requirements:
  • The home must be your primary residence.
  • The mortgage must be less than or equal to $729,750.
  • The mortgage must have been closed prior to January 1, 2009.
  • The housing payment, including principal, interest property taxes, HOA fees, and insurance, mustn't exceed 31% of your gross monthly income, before taxes.
  • You must have a documentable hardship, typically consisting of either a substantial decrease of income or a significant increase in expenses that were beyond your control.
  • You must have a steady source of income that is sufficient to afford the modified mortgage payments.
Borrowers that satisfy these criteria should contact their lenders and begin gathering documents for the modification application. Lenders will typically require documentation regarding income, outstanding debts, assets, and evidence of financial hardship before granting borrowers a preliminary and permanent loan modification. On average, you can save approximately $500 monthly through a HAMP modification, so if you are eligible, you should contact your lender as soon as possible.
Who Should Consider Obtaining a HAMP Loan Modification:
  • Eligible borrowers who have experienced a financial hardship as a result of the U.S. housing market collapse
  • Borrowers who are cannot feasibly afford monthly mortgage payments but would be able to afford an adjusted mortgage rate

HARP Overview

The Home Affordability Refinance Program, abbreviated as HARP, was designed to provide financial relief for underwater homeowners, who owe more than their home’s value as a result of the burst of the housing market bubble. Through this program, these formerly ineligible borrowers can secure refinance loans to capitalize on the exceptionally low mortgage rates that are currently available. Unlike the HAMP program, HARP does not require you to be at risk of foreclosure or experiencing financial hardship; rather, to qualify for HARP, you must satisfy the following HARP requirements
  • You must own less than 20% of their home’s equity.
  • You must have made all mortgage payments on time, or less than 30 days late, within the past 6 months prior to application
  • The mortgage must have been acquired and securitized prior to June 1, 2009.
  • You must have a mortgage that is backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
Borrowers that meet these criteria should contact their loan servicer to determine whether or not they are eligible.
Who Should Obtain a HARP Refinance Loan:
  • Borrowers who lost a significant amount of equity due to the burst of the housing market bubble
  • Eligible borrowers who are underwater and cannot refinance with traditional loan programs
To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Thursday, August 15, 2013

15 > than 30?

The 15-year fixed rate mortgage is popular.
Last quarter, a growing number of U.S. households refinanced out of 30-year fixed rate mortgages, and into 15-year and 20-year ones. More refinancing households moved to shorter loan terms than during any quarter since 2011.
Low mortgage rates are part of the reason. The HARP refinance program is the other.

35% Of Refinancing Households Left The 30-Year Fixed

According to Freddie Mac's quarterly Product Transition report, between April - June 2013, 35 percent of refinancing U.S. households with an existing 30-year fixed rate mortgage elected to refinance into a new 15-year fixed rate mortgage or 20-year fixed rate mortgage.
The reading marks a 4 percentage point increase over the quarter prior, and the largest transition rate in more than a year.
The rush among homeowners to ditch their 30-year mortgages is noteworthy. Average 15-year mortgages are historically cheap as compared to their 30-year mortgage counterpart.
  • Between 2000-2012, 15-year rates were 0.52 percentage points below 30-year rates
  • Last quarter, 15-year rates were 0.84 percentage points below 30-year rates
Today's 15-year fixed rate mortgage is "on sale" and a savvy rate shoppers know a great deal when they see one. At today's rates, the total interest paid over the life of a 15-year loan is 66 percent lower as compared to a similar 30-year product.
Never in history could homeowners save this much. The spread is bigger than it's ever been before.

HARP 2.0 Below 105% LTV Dominated By 15-Year Fixed

Last quarter, the 15-year mortgage was especially popular among users of the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). HARP is the government's mortgage program for underwater homeowners.
Via HARP, homeowners whose homes have lost equity are eligible to refinance without new, or additional, private mortgage insurance (PMI) coverage. This means that homeowners who put 10% down at the time of purchase can refinance into a loan with "10% down PMI", regardless of their home's current equity levels.
Similarly, homeowners who put 20% down at the time of purchase -- but who are now underwater -- can refinance via HARP without having being required to pay any amount of PMI at all.
HARP was initially launched as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. The program was expected to reach 7 million U.S. households.
By late-2011, though, HARP had little traction. Fewer than 1 million homes had been HARP-refinanced. The government took control.
Renaming the product "HARP 2.0", the Home Affordable Refinance Program was revamped and re-released. The number of eligible HARP households increased dramatically and so did the number of HARP closing.
More than 1,000,000 HARP 2.0 loans closed in 2012. Another one million are expected to close in 2013. The program is a hit.
Also, among HARP refinances, a pattern has emerged. The more equity that a HARP-refinance candidate has in its home, the more likely the homeowner will choose a "short" loan term.
  • LTV of 80 - 105 percent : 29% refinanced into a 15-year or 20-year mortgage 
  • LTV of 105 - 125 percent : 21% refinanced into a 15-year or 20-year mortgage
  • LTV of 125 percent or more : 18% refinanced into a 15-year or 20-year mortgage 
As HARP 2.0 expands to reach more homeowners -- possibly in the form of HARP 3.0, which may launch next quarter -- the share of U.S. households which refinancing into 15-year fixed rate mortgages may increase as compared to other loan terms.

See All Of Today's HARP Mortgage Rates

The interest rate spread between 15-year and 30-year mortgages is at an historical high. For HARP households, the savings can be huge. Take a look at today's rates and see how they fit your budget. Zero-closing cost mortgages are available.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rising Mortgage Rates Affect Home Affordability

Rising Mortgage Rates Affect Home Affordability

Tuesday, the National Association of Home Builders released its Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) for 2013's second quarter.
The HOI is a home affordability gauge. In each of 225 tracked metropolitan areas, the Home Opportunity Index takes the median home sale price and the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate, then projects what a typical housing payment for this "median home" may look like.
An "affordable" home is one for which the monthly mortgage payment would be 28% or less of that area's median household monthly income. The index assumes a 10% downpayment on the home.
According the National Association of Homebuilders, just 69.4 percent of U.S. homes were affordable for households earning the national median income of $64,400 last quarter.
The reading is a 4.4 percentage point drop from the quarter prior, which marks the largest quarter-over-quarter drop in home affordability since the NAHB began tracking such data in 2005.
The last three quarters have been on steady decline :
  • 3 quarters ago : 74.9 percent
  • 2 quarters ago : 73.7 percent
  • Last quarter : 69.4 percent
Throughout this time frame, the median U.S. home sales price climbed 7% to $202,000, the average mortgage rate used by the NAHB index rose 0.16 percentage points; and, the median U.S. household income sank $600 annually.
Home affordability will likely be reported lower for Q3 2013, too. Home prices continue to rise in many U.S. markets and mortgage rates are elevated as compared to last quarter's average.

Small Markets Dominate Home Affordability Study

Like all things in real estate, home affordability is a local phenomenon. Home prices, mortgage rates and household incomes vary by region, and so does the Home Opportunity Index.
"Small" markets dominated second quarter index results. "Large" markets fared poorly.
The Utica-Rome, New York area was ranked as last quarter's most affordable housing market. 97.1% of all homes sold were affordable to families earning the area's median income of $63,800. Roughly one hundred thousand people live in the Utica-Rome area.
Other small market cities with high affordability rankings include Kokomo, Indiana (95.7); Cumberland, Maryland (94.7); Vineland, New Jersey (94.7); and, Bay City, Michigan (94.6).
The top major market was the Ogden-Clearfield, Utah area. The Salt Lake City satellite region posted an affordability ranking of 92.8.
Meanwhile, at the low-end of the affordability spectrum, for the 3rd consecutive quarter, the San Francisco-San Mateo-San Jose, California area ranked at the top. Just 19.3% of families earning the area's median income of $101,200 can afford to buy homes in California's Bay Area.
The median sales price was $781,000 last quarter.

For "Great Deals" In Housing, The Door May Be Closing

From 2008-2012, falling home prices plus falling rates dropped home affordability to all-time record levels. In 2013, that trend has reversed. It's getting tougher to find "great deals" in housing. Affordability falls month by month by month.
Today's home buyers would do well to take note of the market. Low- and no-downpayment programs still exist
but, because of rising mortgage rates, monthly payments are moving higher. Maybe write that offer sooner rather than later? By 2014, affordability may be even lower.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.   

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

FHA Info you should know

The FHA mortgage is one of the misunderstood products in the market. For years, the FHA advertised its products as loans for people "on the margins". For the last 10 years, however, that has not been the case.
FHA loans are among the most flexible and rewarding products available to today's U.S. home buyers.
There are 6 common misconceptions about the FHA mortgage, and these falsehoods could be standing between you and a bona fide loan approval. Read more below.

Myth 1 : The FHA Is A Mortgage Lender

Fact : The FHA is not a mortgage lender. It's a mortgage insurer.
The acronym "FHA" stands for Federal Housing Administration, a government agency within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The FHA doesn't make mortgage loans to home buyers or refinancing households. Rather, the FHA provide mortgage insurance to banks, credit unions, and other lenders which make loans meeting FHA insurance standards.
The FHA reimburses lenders for a portion of incurred losses in the event that their FHA-insured loans default, or go to short sale or foreclosure.

Myth 2 : FHA Loans Are For First-Time Buyers Only

Fact : FHA loans are not for first-time buyers only. FHA loans can be used by first-time buyers and repeat buyers alike.
The FHA loan is often marketed as a product for "first-time buyers" because of its low downpayment requirements. However, last decade, many U.S. homeowners have lost home equity in the housing market downturn. These repeat buyers may have little money for downpayment -- even after the sale of their former home.
The FHA will insure mortgages for any primary residence. You don't need to be a first-time buyer.

Myth 3 : FHA Loans Require 20 Percent Downpayment

Fact : FHA loans do not require a 20 percent downpayment.
For home buyers, FHA mortgages require a 3.5 percent downpayment with the fewest "strings" attached. This makes the FHA mortgage one of the most lenient mortgage types available nationwide.
There are very few credit restrictions with the FHA loan and the agency allows your 3.5% downpayment to comes as a gift from a family member, employer, charitable organization or government home-buyer program.
Other low-downpayment mortgage programs have eligibility requirements. The VA loan, for example, allows for 100% financing but you must be an eligible military borrower to use it.
The USDA Rural Development loan also allows 100% financing but the USDA program requires that your home be in a less-developed census tract; and that your household income is within certain limits.
Fannie Mae's 3% downpayment program -- the Conventional 97 -- require higher credit scores than an FHA loan, and loan sizes are limited to $417,000. FHA loans are available up to $729,750.

Myth 4 : FHA Loans Require High Credit Scores

Fact : FHA loans do not require a high credit score to qualify.
FHA loans feature some of the flexible and forgiving credit standards of any available loan type. With an FHA-backed loan, perfect credit is not required, and mortgage lenders are expressly instructed to consider a borrower's complete credit history --  not just isolated instances of late payments here and there.
You can get an FHA loan if you've recently experienced a short sale, foreclosure or bankruptcy. Sometimes, a waiting period is required, but not always. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be eligible to purchase another home using FHA financing right away.
Since 2011, FHA mortgage rates have been lower than comparable conventional products.
Note that not everyone will qualify for an FHA home loan. Borrowers with a "banged-up" history, though, have a much better chance of getting loan approval via the FHA than other government agencies.
Even if you've been turned down for other types of credit, such as an auto loan, credit card or other home loan programs, an FHA-backed loan may open the door to homeownership for you.

Myth 5 : FHA Loans Are Expensive

Fact : FHA loans can be more expensive, or less expensive, than other loan types. The long-term cost of an FHA loan depends on your loan size, your downpayment, and your location.
The biggest cost of an FHA home loan is usually not its mortgage rate -- FHA mortgage rates are often less than comparable conventional mortgage rates via Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The biggest cost is FHA mortgage insurance.
FHA mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) are payments made to the FHA to insure your loan against default. MIP is how the FHA collects "dues" to keep its program available to U.S homeowners at no cost to taxpayers.
MIP is paid in two parts. The first part is paid at closing and is known as Upfront MIP. Upfront MIP is automatically added to your loan balance by the FHA so no payment is required at settlement. Upfront MIP ranges from 0.35% of your loan size to 1.5% of your loan size. Your loan traits determine your MIP cost.
The same is true for annual mortgage insurance premiums, which are paid in monthly installments along with your mortgage payment.
Annual MIP can range as high as 1.55% in high-cost areas such as Orange County, California; Potomac, Maryland; and, New York City, New York. For most borrowers, MIP is between 0.45% and 1.35% annually.
As compared to conventional loans with less than 20% downpayment, FHA MIP is sometimes more costly and sometimes less so. Your loan officer can help you compare choices.

Myth 6 : All FHA Loans Are The Same

Fact : All FHA loans are not the same. There are many "types" of FHA loans, and mortgage rates vary by lender.
As an agency, the FHA publishes and maintains minimum eligibility requirements all of the loans it insures. However, FHA lenders enforce additional requirements on FHA loans, known as "investor overlays."
A sample of investor overlays includes raising the minimum FHA mortgage score requirement; or, requiring additional time since a bankruptcy, short sale, or foreclosure; or requiring employment verification for an FHA Streamline Refinance transaction.
Because of overlays, when you've been turned down for an FHA mortgage by Lender A, you should always try to apply with Lender B which may approve your FHA loan request. Plus, mortgage rates can be very different from bank-to-bank.
In addition, the FHA offers special refinance loans, home construction loans, and various benefits to eligible applicants.

Check Your FHA Eligibility Today

The FHA insures home loans in all 50 states, in the District of Columbia, and in many U.S. territories including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whether you're a first-time buyer or an experienced one, an FHA-insured mortgage may be your best home financing option.
See today's FHA mortgage rates to see how FHA loans can help you. Getting rates online is fast and free and no social security number is required.

To receive personalized rates please email me at with your available times to discuss your options.