South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

Be Prepared for Your Mortgage Pre-approval Interview by Having Answers to These 4 Questions

Be Prepared for Your Mortgage Pre-approval Interview by Having Answers to These 4 QuestionsSo – you’re thinking of buying a house and now you’re ready to take the next step and meet with your lender or mortgage advisor for the pre-approval interview. Are you ready?

At this stage of the application process your lender will dig into your financial background to ensure that you’re fully capable of making your mortgage payments and that you don’t present too high a risk. Let’s take a quick look at a few questions you should know the answers to before you go in for a mortgage pre-approval.

Do You Have a Specific Home in Mind?

If you’ve already picked out the perfect new home, be sure to bring along some of the details when you meet with your lender. At minimum you’ll want to know the price range that you’re expecting to buy in so that your mortgage advisor can try to find a mortgage that allows you to purchase the home and still meet your other financial goals.

What is Your Current Income from All Sources?

Your income (and that of your spouse or significant other, if you have one) will be a major factor in the size of your mortgage, your payment terms and the interest rate that you qualify for. If you have a significant income and it’s clear that you will have little trouble making the mortgage payments you’ll likely qualify for a shortened amortization period that includes a lower interest rate. Conversely, if you can only afford to make a bare minimum monthly payment you’ll be facing a longer mortgage term.

Do You Have Any “Black Marks” on Your Credit?

If you have any negative spots in your credit history you’ll want to ensure that you’re able to answer for them, because your lender will certainly ask about them. Be honest and confident, and remember that the lender wants your business as much as you want to receive a pre-approval for mortgage financing.

What Are Your Plans in the Next Five to Ten Years?

Finally don’t forget that interest rates will continue to fluctuate and that may have an impact on your mortgage in the near future. Be sure to share any major financial plans that you have with your mortgage advisor as they can keep you appraised of any refinancing opportunities that come about.

Buying a home is an exciting time – one that will be far less stressful if you are fully prepared for the many steps along the way. Contact your local mortgage professional today to learn more about how you can get pre-approved for mortgage financing. If you don’t have one, I have a couple of lenders I’ve worked with over the years, whom I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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New Formula Could Revamp Credit Scores Nationwide!

An article from Tory Barringer, of DSNews.com, August 8th, 2014:

credit-score-fico-improvementThe company responsible for one of the most widely used measures of credit health is making changes to its current model that could boost credit scores nationwide.

In an announcement on Thursday, analytics and decision management firm FICO said its new credit model, FICO Score 9, “introduces a more nuanced way to assess consumer collection information,” resulting in greater precision for lenders measuring a borrower’s credit stability. The model will be available to lenders through the country’s various reporting agencies starting in the fall.

“FICO Score 9 uses a more refined treatment of consumers with a limited credit history and those with accounts at collection agencies, so that lenders can grow their credit and loan portfolios more confidently,” said Jim Wehmann, EVP for Scores at FICO.

The key difference in the new model is that strikes from medical collections will have a lower impact, reflecting the relatively low level of credit risk they represent. From just that change, the company expects the median FICO score will increase by 25 points among consumers whose only credit dents come from unpaid medical debts.

FICO isn’t alone in its push to reassess how medical debts are reflected on a borrower’s credit profile. In May, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released the results of a study finding that credit scores may underestimate creditworthiness by as much as 10 points for consumers owing on medical costs and by up to 22 points for consumers who have repaid their debt.

Often, consumers aren’t even aware their debt has been sent to collections, CFPB said.

Another change in the FICO Score 9 model is that it will also discount any overdue payments that have already been made, leaving only unpaid collections as a mark.

While the changes may have a significant impact on approval rates for credit cards and auto loans, the effects will be more subtle for borrowers and lenders in the mortgage space, says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for personal finance website Bankrate.com.

“These changes are going to be a positive for consumers, but it’s not something that moves the goalposts,” McBride said in a phone call. “These changes aren’t going to take a consumer with bad credit and suddenly make them appear as if they have good credit.”

Rather, for consumers whose credit scores sit on the threshold between poor, adequate, or good, the expected boost could make a difference in terms of required down payments or interest rates.

The Score 9 model also promises to help lenders make decisions on consumers with little to no credit history—though McBride doesn’t expect to see an immediate impact in mortgage approvals for credit-lacking millennials.

However, if those young consumers have an easier time securing lines on smaller loans, however, that could balloon out into the mortgage space in the future.

“You [have to] knock over the dominoes,” McBride said.

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Can One Missed Mortgage Payment Affect Your Credit Rating? Yes! Here’s What to Do if You Miss One

Can One Missed Mortgage Payment Affect Your Credit Rating? Yes! Here's What to Do if You Miss OneMost people don’t know whether or not a single missed mortgage payment can have serious consequences for their credit score.

The good news is that there are things that can be done to mitigate the damage and help anyone who has missed a payment repair their credit. What are some options to help homeowners get back in the good graces of their creditors?

Own Up To The Mistake

The best thing to do is to admit that the payment was missed and immediately make amends for it. For the most part, mortgage lenders are sympathetic to the fact that people miss payments for reasons that may be beyond their control.

By calling the lender as soon as it appears that a payment may be late or not forthcoming at all, it is easier to make arrangements to roll that payment back into the mortgage or take other steps to decrease the odds of a negative remark being made on a credit report.

Don’t Let A Single Missed Payment Turn Into Multiple Missed Payments

While a single missed payment can hurt a credit score, it is important to not compound the mistake by missing more payments. In some cases, someone may decide to make up for the late payment before making any further payments.

However, that only makes the mistake worse because a borrower will be considered late on all subsequent payments. It is better to make the most current payment on time and make the late payment the secondary priority.

Hire A Third-Party If Necessary To Negotiate A Loan Modification

It is important to not let emotion get in the way of negotiating a modification to a mortgage. When a borrower hires a credit counselor or a bankruptcy attorney to talk his or her creditors, the negotiations can stay professional and on topic.

In most cases, a lender will be willing to make modifications for those who need them because it is better to get the money from the borrower willingly instead of having to go through a foreclosure proceeding.

While a missed mortgage payment can be bad news for a credit score, it is possible to make amends for the missed payment while minimizing long-term damage to a borrower’s credit score. By owning the mistake, staying current on all future payments and working with a third-party, it may be possible for a lender to forget that the missed payment ever happened.

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The Magic Number: Does Your Credit Score Need To Be Above 720 To Apply For A Mortgage?

The Magic Number: Does Your Credit Score Need to Be Above 800 to Apply for a Mortgage?Over the course of a lifetime, financial development can lead to some wonderful opportunities. A person’s financial development and state of affairs is something that is particularly important when it comes to taking out a bank loan to further progress in life, and the largest loan most people will require is a mortgage for a home purchase.

Since the process of getting approved for a mortgage is heavily dependent on credit history and that three-digit credit score that reflects reliability as a borrower, you should always put forth practices to keep that number healthy and growing.

However, how much importance does a credit score hold? Does that magic, three-digit number need to be above 720 in order to get approved for a mortgage?

The FICO Score: The Magic Number That Counts

When you apply for a mortgage, you will have to provide certain information to your financial institution or mortgage broker. The mortgage specialist at your bank or mortgage broker will then pull your credit score and your credit report.

Fair, Isaac and Company is the scorekeeper of your FICO score, which ranges from 300 to 850, 850 being the highest of all scores, and 300 being the lowest.

Every person in the United States has three FICO scores from the three different credit-reporting bureaus. Up to 80 percent of financial lenders will use a borrower’s FICO score in order to approve a mortgage application and determine a suitable interest rate on the loan.

The 600 Range: Fair And Good Credit Mortgage Options

If your credit score isn’t perfect (ie. above the 800 mark), you need not worry too much. There are many options available for those with credit scores around 600, and, with many different financial lenders to consider, having a mortgage approved sometimes means persisting with an application to several different lenders before receiving a “yes.”

With a “fair” and “good” credit rating falling between 620 and 719, there are options available to get approved for a mortgage well under the perfect 800 mark.  An FHA loan is a type of mortgage loan that is insured by the US Federal Housing Administration, offering an option with more flexible qualification measures. For homebuyers with a credit score above 620, this is a viable and common option.

720 To Perfect: Under 800 And Still In Great Shape

The median credit score in the United States is 723, and anything above 720 is placed with the marker of “excellent credit.” Therefore, just because you may range just slightly above 720, which may feel miles away from a perfect 800, you’re likely in just as good of shape when it comes to getting approved for a mortgage. You can expect a mortgage approval with good interest rates if you have a credit score higher than 720.

Keeping an eye on your credit rating and understanding the measures that are used in determining your credit score will certainly help you maintain a good score. Of course, speaking with a professional and receiving expert advice is always recommended. I have a few lender reps I trust, who I would be happy to recommend.

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4 Of The Best Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

The Best Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage1) Do I Have Enough Equity To Get A Mortgage?

To get a conventional loan, you will usually need to have at least 20 percent equity. This means that your house will have to be worth at least $250,000 to get a $200,000 loan. If you have less equity, you could end up having to pay for private mortgage insurance, which can easily add $100 or more to your monthly payment.

2) How’s My Credit?

Most lenders will look at your credit score as a part of determining whether or not to make you a loan. With conventional lenders, your rate will depend on your score and the higher it is, the lower your payment will be. Other lenders, like the FHA and VA programs have an all or nothing rule.

If you qualify, your rate won’t be based on your credit, but if your score is too low, you won’t be able to get any loan. Generally, 620 credit scores are the lowest that will qualify you for any loan.

3) What Do I Want To Accomplish?

Mortgages typically offer a choice as to their term. While the 30-year loan is the most popular, shorter term mortgages save you money since you pay less interest over their lives. They also get you out of debt sooner, at least as regards your house.

The drawback is that they carry higher payments since you pay off more principal every month. This can make them less affordable for some borrowers.

4) How’s My Current Loan?

If you have an adjustable rate mortgage, you may want to switch to a fixed rate mortgage simply for the additional security it offers you. On the other hand, if you are planning to move relatively soon, your current mortgage could be a better deal whether it’s fixed- or adjustable-rate.

When trying to decide what to do, compare the cost of refinancing with what it would cost you in additional interest to hold on to your existing loan. While the breakdown is different for every borrower, generally, you’ll need to keep your current house and loan for anywhere from three to six years to break even on the costs of refinancing.

Deciding what to do with your mortgage can be complicated. Working with a qualified loan broker that can consider every angle with you can help you to make a better decision. If you don’t already have a favorite loan person, give me a call or shoot me an email – I have a couple who I can enthusiastically recommend.

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How Do Mortgage Lenders Decide How Much You Can Borrow?

How Do Mortgage Lenders Decide How Much You Can Borrow?Thinking a buying your next home?

Before you start looking at houses, your first order of business should be to talk to a lender, to become “pre-approved” for your purchase. Pre-approval provides you with negotiating clout almost as solid as a cash buyer. In case you don’t already have a lender in mind, I can wholeheartedly recommend a few who I’ve done business with over the years.

When you visit a lender to get a mortgage for your home, they will tell you the maximum amount that you are allowed to borrow. But how do they reach this total and what factors do they take into consideration?

How do they determine that one borrower can take on a bigger mortgage than the next? This decision is made by mortgage companies by considering a wide range of factors, including your credit information, your salary and much more.

Here Are Some Of The Common Ways That Lenders Determine How Much You Can Borrow:

1. Percentage Of Gross Monthly Income

Many lenders follow the rule that your monthly mortgage payment should never exceed 28% of your gross monthly income.

This will ensure that you are not stretched too far with your mortgage payments and you will be more likely to be able to pay them off. Remember, your gross monthly income is the total amount of money that you have been paid, before deductions from social security, taxes, savings plans, child support, etc.

2. Debt To Income Ratio

Another formula that mortgage lenders use is the “Debt to Income” ratio, which refers to the percentage of your gross monthly income that is taken up by debts. This takes into account any other debts, such as credit cards and loans. Many lenders say that the total of your debts shouldn’t exceed 36% of your gross monthly income.

The lender will look at all of the different types of debt you have and how well you have paid your bills over the years. By using one of these two formulas, your mortgage lender calculates the size of a mortgage that you can afford.

Of course, there are many other factors that need to be considered, such as the term length of the loan, the size of your down payment and the interest rate.

Remember that when factoring in your income, you usually have to have a stable job for at least two years in a row to be able to count your income. If you want to increase your chances, you could consider paying down your debts or buying with a co-borrower, which will improve your debt to income ratio.

Of course you DON’T have to borrow the maximum you qualify for

Most of my clients “can afford” to buy a more expensive house with a higher monthly payment, but make a deliberate choice to go at least a bit lower, so as not to stretch their obligations to the max. I applaud that philosophy! I find it much preferable to be comfortable with the payment, than to push your limits.

Once you’ve decided on a price range, give me a call and let’s talk about your real estate plans.

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Short Sales Reported as a Foreclosure and Credit Provider Discrepancies

A lot of today’s buyers have completed a short sale in their recent history and are now seeking to purchase a home again, wondering when they’ll be eligible to do so.  Below is an article I just read from one of the lenders whose opinion I respect, and whose services I regularly recommend.

Short Sales Reported as a Foreclosure and Credit Provider Discrepancies 

                                              Home-Financing-Tips-3

Current Fannie Mae guidelines require a 2 year waiting period after a borrower has had a short sale to be eligible for new financing with a 20% down payment. The loan must be submitted through Fannie Mae’s automated underwriting system, Desktop Underwriter (DU), to insure the short sale on their credit will be approved. 

There are three different results DU will report a loan file as:

A)     Approved/Eligible-this means the buyer is approved

B)      Refer/Eligible-this means the buyer’s file must be manually approved by an underwriter

C)      Refer with Caution- this is a loan denial 

There are 3 main credit bureaus that collect and report the information-Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each of the bureaus makes their own decision on what internal codes are to be used in reporting a short sale. The code most commonly used is an I-5,“Installment with Severe Delinquency”. Unfortunately the code I-9 is sometimes reported which represents a “Foreclosure”. 

If two of the bureaus report an I-5 and one of the bureaus report the short sale as an I-9, Desktop Underwriter reads the report as a foreclosure and will issue a Refer with Caution because the waiting period after a foreclosure with FNMA is 7 years. 

Experian refuses to change the code from I-9 to I-5 if they are the bureau reporting the short sale as a foreclosure. Their reasoning is the definition of a short sale is a pre-foreclosure which is deemed a type of foreclosure. 

The remedy would be a manual underwrite because the buyer’s documentation would prove the home sold and the bank settled for less than full. However, most investors require a DU Approve/Eligible in order for them to purchase the loan so most lenders do not offer a manual underwrite on Fannie Mae loans. 

One solution has been waiting for the 3 year time period to elapse and finance with FHA. The waiting period after a foreclosure is 3 years with FHA. The down side is the mortgage insurance requirement even if the borrower has 20% down payment. That can be a very expensive option for the buyer. 

The takeaway from this is to know it is more than just meeting the time frame after a short sale for the buyer to be eligible for new financing. The buyer needs to be fully approved by having their loan file entered in Fannie Mae’s automated underwriting system and have the final decision be Approved/Eligible before entering escrow.” (End of my friend’s article.)

If you’re a potential home buyer who falls into this category, and you’re searching for a lender to assist you, I can recommend a couple of excellent ones.

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What Should You To Do In Advance To Prepare For Your Mortgage Application

What Should You To Do In Advance To Prepare For Your Mortgage Application

If you are applying for a mortgage to buy a home, doing your homework in advance before you submit the application means that you will stand a better chance of getting accepted at a desirable mortgage rate.

According to mortgage experts, it is a good idea to gather up all of the needed documents in advance before launching your house hunt, as this will make the application process a lot easier.

The housing burst has resulted in much harder lending standards, which means that it could possible take weeks or sometimes even months to secure a loan.

Here are a few important steps that you should take in advance:

Consider What You Can Really Afford

Before you start the entire house hunting and mortgage application process, you should consider what you can really afford to buy.

It might be tempting to buy a house at the upper end of your price range, but consider the fact that it will be more of a struggle to make your mortgage payments and it will take much longer to pay down the mortgage. Assess your finances and be honest with yourself.

Buying a home that is more comfortably within your price range will ensure that you can easily manage your monthly budget over the years.

Save Up A Down Payment

The bank will want to see that you are able to make a down payment of at least 20% of the value of the home.

In order to save up this amount of money, it will be easier if you start in advance and save a small amount every month. The more you can pay for a down payment, the less your mortgage will be and the more money you will save over the length of the loan.

Do Your Research

Take your time to do lots of research in advance and seek out impartial advice on the mortgage market. There are so many options to choose from and a lot to consider, so the more knowledge you have the more prepared you are to make an informed decision.

Consider Your Credit

Before applying for a mortgage loan, you should take a look at your credit report.

Your lender will look at it when you are making an application and they will use it to consider whether or not to offer you the loan and what type of interest rate to give you. If you spot any errors or issues with the credit report, it is a good idea to get them fixed now before you apply.

These are just a few things to consider before applying for a mortgage.

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3 Common Home Financing Problems And How To Avoid Them

3 Common Home Financing Problems And How To Avoid ThemGetting the best mortgage financing for your new home can sometimes be a complicated process and, unfortunately, things can go wrong. Using a licensed and trusted mortgage loan specialist can help alleviate many of these challenges.

There are certain mistakes that many homebuyers make when applying for their mortgages that can seriously damage their chances of being approved. If you are aware of the most common mortgage issues, you will be better able to prevent them when applying for your own mortgage.

Make sure that you keep the following tips in mind when applying for a mortgage:

Making Large Purchases Before Closing On The Mortgage

Many homebuyers think that they are in the clear once the mortgage deal is approved and they move forward on another large purchase such as a car or home furnishings. However, it is best to hold off on all major purchases until the mortgage is finalized, as additional debt will change your “debt-to-income ratio” which could mean that you no longer qualify for the loan.

Many lenders pull your credit information right before funding, so avoid any big-ticket items until you have signed on the dotted line.

Switching Jobs During The Mortgage Loan Process

When deciding whether or not to approve your loan, the lender will look at your salary and your job stability. If you make a career move during the process of applying for the loan, this could make your income seem unstable and could cause the bank to decline your loan.

Stay in your job through your home closing date to reassure the bank that you have a stable income; you can always switch careers later.

Having No Credit Card

You might think that the fact that you have gotten by without a credit card for this long would be a positive thing in the mind of lenders. However, having no credit history at all makes lenders nervous, as they don’t know how you will handle credit when you have it.

Instead, get a credit card that you repay in full every month, which will help to show them you can manage your credit responsibly.

These are just a few examples of major mistakes that home buyers make when applying for a mortgage. If you can avoid these issues, you will find it much easier to buy a South Orange County home.

As always, call your trusted home mortgage financing professional today to discuss your personal situation and get the best advice on your upcoming home purchase!

If you don’t presently have such a financing pro to turn to, I have four great ones I can wholeheartedly recommend.

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How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing Terms

How To Improve Your Credit Score For Better Financing TermsImagine that you’ve found the perfect home and are ready to apply for financing. Your home loan approval amount comes back lower than you would have expected and at an interest rate significantly above what you have heard is available on the market.

This could be because you have an average to poor credit score.

Mortgage lenders base interest rates on many things, but your credit score plays a large part. Anything between 720 and 850 will typically qualify for better interest rates. A mediocre score is usually between 660 and 719, and a low score is 659 and under.

If you have a lower score than you’d like, below are a few traits for you to follow of people who possess higher credit scores and secure the best home financing.

They don’t max out their cards.

It’s better to keep a low revolving balance on a few cards than to spend every dime allotted on one. The ratio of credit card balance to your credit limit is called credit utilization. The higher your credit utilization, the larger affect it can have one your credit score.

They make payments on time.

This is very likely the most important tip for your credit health. If you miss a payment on a term loan, credit card account or monthly home bill, then you could be turned over to collections, which will affect your score negatively.  You will almost surely be reported as late to the credit bureaus, which will in turn drop your credit score precipitously. Absolutely make all of your payments before their due date.

They stay with one card.

Don’t close and open credit card accounts frequently. Each time you make a change to your line of credit, it affects your score. Even if you don’t want to be tempted to use a credit card, keep the account open and leave the card at home. According to the Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO), high credit achievers have accounts that are usually at least 11 years old.

Excellent credit could qualify you for a better interest rate, which might save you thousands of dollars over the life of the loan. So stay on top of your monthly credit bills and keep a low balance on just a few cards to watch your score steadily increase.

If you’re ready to learn more about your ability to purchase a home in South Orange County, call me,  text me, or shoot me an email.  Then, let’s go house shopping!

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