South Orange County Blog from Bob Phillips

An Insider’s Guide to Reducing Your Remaining Mortgage Years Through a Smart Refinance

Reasons_Why_You_Should_Consider_Refinancing_Your_MortgageIs it always the best idea to pay off a mortgage over 30 years? While it may help a homeowner lower his or her monthly payment, it can mean paying more in interest and waiting several more years to build sufficient equity in the home.

The question is…how can a homeowner reduce the amount of time it takes to pay off a mortgage by refinancing his or her loan? A few methods for reducing your mortgage term are explained below.

Refinance From A 30-Year Mortgage To A 15-Year Mortgage

For those who don’t want to wait any longer than necessary to pay off their home loan, it may be possible to refinance to a shorter-term mortgage. Instead of taking 30 years to pay off the loan, a homeowner can opt to pay off the loan in 10 years or 15 years. The shorter the term, the less interest will be paid on the loan.

Get A Lower Interest Rate With A Shorter-Term Mortgage

Another good reason to shorten a mortgage term is because it could lower the loan’s interest rate. Instead of paying 4.5 percent over 30 years, it may be possible to pay 4 percent over 15 years. This gives the mortgage holder the chance to build equity in the home faster as they are paying more of the principal balance with each payment. While a mortgage holder can pay more than the minimum amount on a longer-term mortgage each month, it could still end up costing more overall due to the terms of the loan. Be sure to ask your mortgage professional about your options here.

Stop Paying Mortgage Insurance

Those who are paying mortgage insurance could be paying $200 or more per month for nothing more than the right to protect the lender against default. Homeowners who could qualify for a conventional loan should attempt to refinance to a conventional loan if possible to avoid making this payment. Instead of going toward mortgage insurance, put that money toward the principal balance on the loan. There are, of course, risks involved with this approach so be sure to fully discuss them with a professional.

How Can Someone Refinance A Loan?

Now that you know how to pay off your mortgage faster through a refinance, how can someone go about refinancing a home loan? Fortunately, refinancing is similar to the process of securing the home’s first loan. All a borrower will need to do is find a lender that he or she wants to work with, find an offer that works for that borrower and then close on the deal. Although there may be closing costs associated with the new loan, some lenders may be willing to waive some or all of them on a refinance.

Paying off a mortgage as soon as possible can help a borrower save money while building equity in the home at a faster pace. This gives a homeowner financial strength as well as the flexibility to sell the house in the future without worrying about losing money in the deal. To find out more about refinancing options, talk to a mortgage lender.  I have a few excellent local choices, if you need a recommendation for one.

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Tips For Maximizing Your Home’s Appraised Value

Tips For Maximizing Your Home's Appraised ValueA home appraisal is an independent opinion of your home’s value, performed by a licensed home appraiser. Appraisals are part of the traditional home purchase process, and lenders require them for most refinances, too.

Appraisers Are Trained Professionals

First, they derive a base for your home’s value based on the recent sales prices of homes that are comparable to yours in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms, style, and square footage.

Then, accounting for features and amenities that make your home different, the appraiser applies “adjustments” to that base value.

This methodology is called the “Sales Comparison” approach and the result is your home’s appraised value. It’s the most common appraisal method used by lenders.

As a homeowner , you can’t affect the sales prices of your home’s comparable properties, but you can help your appraiser understand how your home stands apart from these homes.

This, in turn, can affect your home’s adjustments, resulting in a higher appraised value. With home appraisals, every valuation dollar can matter.

With That In Mind, Here Are A Few Tips For Maximizing Your Home’s Appraised Value:

  1. Be home for your appraisal so you can answer the appraiser’s question, if there are any.
  2. Mention any new roofing, flooring, HVAC, plumbing, or windows you’ve installed since purchase.
  3. Don’t mention projects or repairs you’re “about to undertake”. Appraisers don’t credit for unfinished projects.
  4. Make minor household fixes prior to the appraisal (e.g.; leaky sink, running toilet, peeling paint).
  5. Present a tidy home. This can contribute to a higher “overall condition” adjustment.

Lastly, schedule the appraisal for a time that is convenient for your entire household. An appraiser needs to see, measure, and take photos of every room in your home.

If a room’s door is closed because of a resting child, for example, the appraiser may need to schedule a second appointment to complete the appraisal, and that can raise your appraisal costs.

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Black Knight: 1 in 10 Borrowers Underwater

An article by Colin Robins of DSNews.com, May 5th, 2014:

next-exit“In Black Knight Financial Services’ latest Mortgage Monitor Report, the company found that only one in ten Americans are still underwater, down from one in three in 2010. Overall, the company’s look at March data reflected a shifting landscape. As home prices have risen over the past two years, many distressed loans have worked their way through the system and the percentage of Americans with negative equity has declined considerably.

“Two years of relatively consecutive home price increases and a general decline in the number of distressed loans have contributed to a decreasing number of underwater borrowers,” said Kostya Gradushy, Black Knight’s manager of Loan Data and Customer Analytics.

“Looking at current combined loan-to-value (CLTV), we see that while four years ago 34 percent of borrowers were in negative equity positions, today that number has dropped to just about 10 percent of active mortgage loans,” Gradushy said.

Gradushy references the 10.1 percent negative equity average, but what states homeowners reside in paint a clearer picture of negative equity across the spectrum. Judicial states have a higher negative equity rate at 13.4 percent, compared to the 7.9 percent rate experienced in non-judicial states. ( California is usually a non-judicial state.)

Regardless, Gradushy notes that both judicial and non-judicial states have experienced declines. “Overall, nearly half of all borrowers today are both in positive equity positions and of strong credit quality—credit scores of 700 or above. Four years ago, that category of borrowers represented over a third of active mortgages,” Gradushy said.

The total delinquency rate is 5.37 percent, the lowest since October 2007 according to Black Knight. Month-over-month, delinquency rates have declined to 7.57 percent and are down yearly 16.29 percent in March.

The total U.S. foreclosure pre-sale inventory stands at 2.07 percent, the lowest figure since October 2008. Inventory rates are down 36.69 percent year-over-year.

Black Knight had more positive news in its Mortage Monitor Report: leading indicators, such as foreclosure starts, new problem loan percentage, 90-day defaults count, and 30 to 60 roll count are all down heading into the second quarter.

The company offered that the 2013 population of loans was “the best vintage on record,” but the statement belies the fact that higher credit restrictions severely hampered new originations for lower credit borrowers.

The top five states with the highest total non-current loans were Mississippi (13.4 percent), New Jersey (12.9 percent), Florida (12.1 percent), New York (11.1 percent), and Maine (10.6 percent).

Excluding Mississippi, the remaining four states are judicial states, suggesting the longer timelines required to resolve foreclosures are impacting non-current loan rates, depressing the market’s ability to quickly clear the remaining backlog in foreclosure pipeline.” ( End of Colin’s article.)

From Bob Phillips:   While foreclosure activity in South Orange County is WAY down, there are still a small number of home owners still struggling with their monthly payments, while not having enough equity in their homes to sell, under normal circumstances.  If you, or someone you know, is still struggling with their mortgage payments, with a loan that is higher than the value of their home, there are alternatives available.

You might be able to refinance to a lower rate and payment, or may be able to modify the loan to a lower amount, while also lowering your payments, or you might be able to do a short sale, to get out from under the weight of such a mortgage.  I am trained and experienced in helping find such solutions, and provide such assistance at NO cost to you.  If you are seeking a solution, drop me a line, or give me a call.  Chances are excellent that I can help.

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It Frequently Pays Off To Refinance Your Mortgage

refi-questionsTo refinance a mortgage means to pay off your existing loan and replace it with a new one.

There are many reasons why homeowners opt to refinance, from obtaining a lower interest rate, to shortening the term of the loan, to switching mortgage loan types, to tapping into home equity.

Each has its considerations.

Lower Your Mortgage Rate

Among the best reasons to refinance is to get access to lower mortgage rates. There is no “rule of thumb” that says how far rates should drop for a refinance to be sensible. Compare your closing costs to your monthly savings, and determine whether the math makes sense for your situation.

Shorten Your Loan Term

Refinancing your 30-year fixed rate mortgage to a 20-year fixed rate or a 15-year fixed rate is a sensible way to reduce your long-term mortgage costs, and to own your home sooner. As a bonus, with mortgage rates currently near all-time lows, an increase to your monthly payment from a shorter loan term may be negligible.

Convert ARM To Fixed Rate Mortgage

Homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages may want the comfort of a fixed-rate payment. Mortgage rates for fixed-rate mortgages are often higher than for comparable ARMs so be prepared to pay more to your lender each month.

Access Equity For Projects, Debts, Or Other Reasons

Called a “cash out” refinance, homeowners can sometimes use home equity to retire debts, pay for renovations, or use for other purposes including education costs and retirement. Lenders place restrictions on loans of this type. A refinanced home loan can help you reach specific financial goals or just put extra cash in your pocket each month – just make sure that there’s a clear benefit to you.

Paying large closing costs for small monthly savings or negligible long-term benefit should be avoided. Many lenders offer low- or no-closing costs options for refinancing. Be sure to ask about it.

Don’t have a preferred lender?  I have a few I can wholeheartedly 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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4 Important Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

4 Important Questions To Ask Before Refinancing Your Mortgage

So you are thinking of refinancing? Well you are in luck because I have 4 quick and important questions you should  ask yourself before doing so.

1) 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 $500,000 to get a $400,000 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.

By the way, if you live in South Orange County, and not sure of the present value of your property, give me a call and I would be happy to help you estimate it.

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, 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.

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. I have a couple of excellent lenders I can wholeheartedly recommend, if you’re looking for one.

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When rising homes prices are not enough

An article by Brena Swanson, of HousingWire.com, January 28, 2014

next-exitWhen rising homes prices are not enough. Positive equity is not necessarily a barrier to foreclosure

Although rising home prices have pushed many homeowners out of negative equity, escalating values are not a panacea    for all distressed borrowers.

A growing percentage of borrowers are now entering foreclosure with positive equity in their homes, a new report from Fitch Ratings claims.

According to the study, the percentage of borrowers entering this process with equity has roughly doubled in the last two years.

While equity continues to play a significant role in borrower payment behavior, income and the ability-to-pay also remain key factors.

In September 2013, RealtyTrac discovered that 24% of all homeowners who are in some stage of foreclosure have at least some positive equity built up. By December 2013, that number continued to rise and 31% of people in the foreclosure process were struggling despite the presence of positive equity.

“One of the things that stood out is that the percentage of homeowners in foreclosure who have positive equity is increasing,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president atRealtyTrac. “That was even more surprising because that equity is a lifeline that homeowners can use to avoid foreclosure.”

Many of the borrowers with equity are unable to sell their properties because the proceeds of the sale would not be enough to cover the mortgage amount, the closing costs and the backlog of missed payments.

“Loans entering foreclosure today have missed roughly two years of payments on average, more than double the pre-crisis, long term average,” Fitch Ratings said.

Another factor is that the composition of borrowers entering foreclosure is changing. The percentage of loans entering foreclosure, which had been cash-out refinance at origination increased steadily since 2008, and now account for 50% of the total.

Due to today’s tighter loan underwriting and origination guidelines, borrowers are unable to tap the equity in their homes to cover expenses.

“Also, the loan-to-value and cash-out dollar limits are significantly lower than what was available during peak-vintage years and, despite the improved equity situation, few of these delinquent borrowers could materially benefit from further cash-out refinancings,” Fitch Ratings said.

Approximately half of all loans that recently entered foreclosure have been unsuccessful in at least one prior loan modification. In addition, the percentage of loans entering foreclosure that had been underwritten to subprime guidelines is increasing.  

Fitch Ratings did emphasize that there is a chance some portion of borrowers currently in the foreclosure process obtained additional and/or secondary financing subsequent to the origination of their first liens, which could be factoring into their ability to pay.

“I think it is hard to know if this is a glass half full or glass half empty type thing. These are homeowners who now have a lifeline to avoid foreclosure. But the other side of the coin is just that equity is not enough to prevent foreclosure,” Blomquist said.

“I think the real question is are these homeowners that just do not know or are they homeowners that are in such a tough situation even equity is not going to help them avoid it,” he explained.”  ( End of Brena’s article.)

From Bob Phillips:  Looking for solutions?  I am completely trained, and experienced, with distressed property situations, whether helping find a lender who might be able to refinance you, help you with a possible loan modification, or to get your property sold, in a way that satisfies all the lenders, and affords you some dignity of not having to go through a foreclosure.  I have been able to stop foreclosures sales with as little as a week to spare.  In many cases, my clients have been able to emerge from such scenarios with some cash incentives to move, and/or an ability to buy another home in as little as one year.

If you are having difficulty with your mortgage, there may be options you’re not aware of.  Give me a call, and let’s see if we can solve your dilemma.

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Should I Shorten My Mortgage Term? Important Factors To Consider

When you first bought your home a few years ago, perhaps you started off with a 30 year mortgage. Now, you are considering refinancing and changing it to a 20 year or even a 15 year mortgage.

Reasons_Why_You_Should_Consider_Refinancing_Your_Mortgage

Shortening your mortgage term and refinancing can be a smart financial move, but before you make this decision there are a number of factors that you should consider.

Switching to a shorter mortgage will mean that your monthly payments will be higher, but you will be 100% paid off much sooner and you will save thousands of dollars in interest rates. Here are a few of the factors to consider before making this decision:

Has Your Situation Improved?

Perhaps you have moved to a higher paying position, allowing you to earn a higher income and pay off more of your mortgage every month? Or maybe you have received an inheritance, which will help you to make the payments? Perhaps your expenses have gone down and you will have more money left over from your wage?

Whatever the reason, if your financial situation has improved you might want to consider switching to a shorter mortgage. With your spare money, you will be able to make the larger payments and get your house paid off sooner.

Is The Improvement Long Term?

However, it is important to consider whether this improvement will last for the long term. Will your higher wage stay that way for the next several years? Are there any hidden expenses that you are failing to factor in?

You might be set up to repay larger monthly amounts on your mortgage at the moment, but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure in the future if your finances change.

What Are The Refinancing Costs?

Keep in mind that refinancing often comes with costs and fees, so make sure that you subtract these when you are making your calculations. It can sometimes take at least two or three years to recoup the fees, so make sure that you don’t plan on selling your home in the short term.

Can You Get A Better Rate?

One of the advantages of refinancing to a shorter mortgage is that you can sometimes get the opportunity to find a better rate. Perhaps if you have an adjustable rate you will be able to convert it to a fixed rate. Take a look at what is available and ask your financial adviser for help.

These are just a few important factors to consider when it comes to shortening your mortgage term. For more info about your home, contact your trusted mortgage professional. If you need help finding a trusted mortgage professional, I have a couple I can recommend.

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3 Considerations When Making A Down Payment

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

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

Some Factors You Should Consider Include:

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

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

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Get The Overview On Escrow Accounts

Get The Overview On Escrow AccountsWhether you are purchasing a new home or you are considering applying to refinance your home, in many circumstances, the lender will require an escrow account. These accounts are often a source of confusion for homeowners.

In reality, these accounts benefit the homeowner and help protect the lender.

What Is An Escrow Account?

Escrow accounts are sometimes called “impound” accounts. These accounts are set up to help manage payments of property taxes and homeowner’s insurance.

Depending on the individual requirements of the lender, you may be asked to pay as much as one-quarter of these upfront and they will be put into the account for the purposes of making payments.

Who Controls Escrow Accounts?

Lenders have complete control over escrow accounts. However, homeowners are entitled to receive an annual statement advising them of their escrow balance.

If there is an increase or decrease in insurance payments through the year, a homeowner may request the lender evaluate the escrow account and change the amount that is paid.

Is Interest Paid On Escrow Accounts?

There is no mandate to pay interest on escrow accounts. When you refinance your home, the funds for your taxes and insurance are calculated into your overall payment.

The portion that is to be used to pay taxes and insurance is placed in escrow. Arizona laws do not require lenders to pay interest on these accounts.

What Happens If I Sell My Home Or Refinance?

When you sell or refinance your home, your escrow account will be credited at closing. The amount may be used to lower your out-of-pocket costs or may be turned over to you as a direct payment.

What Happens If There Is Not Enough/Too Much Money In Escrow?

If your lender has underestimated your escrow payments, they may request you send an additional payment to make up the difference. In the event you are paying too much into escrow, your lender has the discretion to release the overage amount directly to you.

In most cases, shortfalls or overages of $50 or less are typically not a major concern.

If your lender requires you to have an escrow account for the taxes and insurance portion of your mortgage payment, it can be very helpful. Escrow accounts help ensure you do not have to come up with a large payment once a year for insurance or quarterly for taxes.

In some cases, if a lender does not require an escrow account, as a borrower, you may request they escrow your taxes and insurance for convenience.

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