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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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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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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More Homeowners Can Refinance as Rates Fall While Values Nudge Upward

Posted in home affordability, Home Values, Mortgage Rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on May 23, 2010

While the demand for mortgage loans to purchase a new home has declined following the expiration of the home buyer tax credit, mortgage applications overall, increased last week as home owners looked to refinance. Mortgage rates have reached their lowest levels since March and many homeowners are looking to refinance their mortgage loans. While falling home prices have reduced the popularity of refinancing to tap into home equity, low mortgage rates have drawn the attention of borrowers looking to reduce their interest payments.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported an increase in the number of applications for mortgage loans. The first week of May saw just under a 4 percent jump in applications from the previous week. With U.S. fixed rate mortgages hovering close to 5 percent, many homeowners jumped at the opportunity to refinance into lower mortgage rates. And with home prices starting to stabilize, the housing market is beginning to return to business as usual.

In the past few years homeowners have seen tremendous volatility in the housing market, including some of largest declines in home prices in recent memory. Falling home prices have wiped out an unprecedented amount of U.S. homeowner’s equity, shaking up the mortgage business. With home prices showing more stability, borrowers and lenders can once again be confident that once a home is refinanced its value will most likely not fall below the mortgage balance. Some borrowers have even chosen to do cash-in refinances, putting more equity into their home to qualify for lower interest rates.

Mortgage Rates Remain Incredibly Low.

Despite the Federal Reserve ending it mortgage purchasing program, mortgage rates remain low. The Mortgage Banker Association reported that they were as low as 4.96 percent for the first week of May. While above the 4.76 percent they were this time last year, the sub 5 percent rates are still historically low. Many homeowners have been waiting for rates to once again dip down and as the trend of increased mortgage loan applications indicates they are swooping in to take advantage.

In some lower price ranges, because values have nudged up over the last year, some homeowners who couldn’t refinance a year or two ago, now can – at historically low fixed rates! Look into it with your favorite loan person – I can recommend a couple of good ones.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 26, 2010

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances, Uncategorized by southorangecounty on April 26, 2010

Federal Reserve meets Apr 27-28 2010Mortgage markets worsened last week in see-saw trading. By the time Friday’s market closed, mortgage rates were higher across the board — ARMs, fixed rates, FHA and conventional.

The biggest stories of last week were actually non-stories. 

First, the ash cloud from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano dissipated, allowing warehouses to move inventory, airlines to move people, and businesses to move product.  In addition, Greece moved closer to securing emergency funding that will help it stave off default.

When these two issues were threats earlier in the month, mortgage bonds rallied on safe haven buying, driving rates down. As the threats lessened over the course of last week, however, mortgage bonds sold off and mortgage rates rose.

By contrast, this week features lots of stories. Economic data will be at the forefront, as will the Federal Reserve which meets for one of its 8 scheduled meetings of the year.

  • Monday : Greece is expected to announce an aid package
  • Tuesday : Case-Shiller Index reports on home values from February
  • Wednesday : Fed adjourns from its 2-day meeting
  • Thursday : Initial Unemployment Claims are released
  • Friday : GDP and consumer confidence numbers are released

Furthermore, Wall Street will have its eye on the Senate’s questioning of key Goldman Sachs employees in the wake of the SEC’s fraud charge.

In general, news that’s “good” for the U.S. economy will be bad for mortgage rates, and vice verse.  And with mortgage rates changing as quickly as they have been, rates could really rise in a hurry.

The best defense against rising mortgage rates is to execute a rate lock. If you’re nervous about rates moving higher, call your loan officer and execute your rate lock today.

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It May Be A Good Time To Look At Adjustable Rate Mortgages

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on April 19, 2010

Comparing the 30-year fixed to the 5-year ARM Apr 2009-Apr 2010

Each week, government-led Freddie Mac publishes a weekly mortgage rate survey based on data from 125 banks across the country.  According to this week’s results, the relative rate of a 5-year ARM is extremely low versus its 30-year fixed-rate cousin.

Consider this comparison:

  • In April 2009, the two products ran neck-and-neck with respect to rates
  • In April 2010, the two products are split by 0.99 percent

On a $200,000 home loan, that’s a difference of $117 per month to a mortgage payment.

Adjustable-rate mortgages aren’t suitable for everyone, but they can be a terrific fit given your individual circumstance.  For example, any one of the following scenarios could warrant a 5-year ARM:

  1. Buying a home with an intent to sell within 5 years
  2. Currently financed with a 30-year fixed mortgage with plans to sell within 5 years
  3. Interested in low payments and comfortable with longer-term interest rate and payment uncertainty

Additionally, homeowners with existing ARMs may want to refinance into a brand-new ARM, if only to extend the initial change date on the current note.

Before opting an ARM or a fixed, speak with your loan officer about how adjustable-rate mortgages work, and what longer-term risks may exist.  The savings may be tempting, but there’s more to consider than just the payment.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 19, 2010

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on April 19, 2010

 

Existing Home Sales Feb 2008-Feb 2010Mortgage markets improved last week for the second week in a row.  And, also for the second week in a row, rates were down on “safe haven” buying — just not for the same safe haven reasons as before.

If you’ll remember, safe haven buying is when investors sense market risk, then move money toward less risky investments.

Well, because the U.S. government backs the bonds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, mortgage bonds tend to fit the “less risky” description and as Iceland’s volcanoes shut down air traffic in Europe, mortgage bonds benefited.

That was early in the week.

Then, on Friday, when the SEC announced fraud charges against Goldman Sachs, a second wave of bond buying began as Wall Street fled the stock market. Mortgage rates fell a second time and the improvement carried through the market’s weekly close.

Conforming and FHA rates are as low as they’ve been since March.

This week, there’s not much data due until Thursday, but even Thursday’s releases won’t make a huge impact on rates.

  1. Initial Jobless Claims : Important vis-a-vis broader employment figures. A strong number could push rates up.
  2. Existing Home Sales : Housing remains a key part of the economy. Strong sales are expected because of the tax credit.
  3. Producer Price Index : A “Cost of Living” index of business. A weak reading is expected because inflation is low.

Then, Friday, New Home Sales is released.

The bigger risk to home buyers this week than data is the reversal of the safe haven buying patterns that have kept mortgage rates down over the past 10 days.  Keep an eye on the markets and your loan officer on speed dial.  Markets can — and do — change quickly. 

You’ll want to time your lock accordingly.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 12, 2010

Posted in home affordability, mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on April 12, 2010

 

Greece default concerns are lowering mortgage ratesMortgage markets improved last week to the delight of rate shoppers.

Against a sparse economic calendar, Wall Street turned its attention to geopolitics in Greece and the Eurozone.  It didn’t like what it saw. Safe haven buying buoyed mortgage bond markets last week as pricing recaptured two-thirds of its monumental losses from the week prior.

Despite last week’s surge, however, conforming and FHA mortgage rates remain near their worst levels of the year and appear poised to increase throughout the summer months.

The U.S. economy is improving. From last week:

Furthermore, continuing jobless claims were down again.

Good news for the economy is generally bad news for mortgage rates. Last week, that wasn’t the case because of Wall Street’s want for “safe” assets right now.  This includes mortgage bonds and is helping to keep consumer rates low. When the safe haven buying eases, rates should climb.

Meanwhile, this week, the calendar is back-heavy. 

There’s no real data until Wednesday’s Consumer Price Index, and then there’s a flurry of new releases through Friday’s market close including Retail Sales, Consumer Confidence and Housing Starts. 

Strength in these issues should push mortgage rates back up.

If you’re floating or shopping a loan right now, be wary of market volatility. Rates have been jumpy since April 1 and mortgage rates are changing quickly. This week, locking in before Wednesday may be your safest, near-term rate locking strategy.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week : April 5, 2010

Posted in mortgage rates, Real estate, Refinances by southorangecounty on April 5, 2010

Non-Farm Payrolls Apr 2008-Mar 2010Mortgage markets performed terribly last week as losses piled up day by day.  It marked the second straight week of sell-offs.


Pricing was influenced on several fronts including better-than-expected economic data, the end of the Federal Reserve’s mortgage buyback program, and a short trading week.


Mortgage rates rose to their highest levels since late-December last week.


The data from the most anticipated story from last week — the jobs report — included a few good-for-the-economy surprises.



  1. Although payrolls fell 22,000 short of expectations in March, they were boosted by +62,000 in net revisions from January and February
  2. “Temporary Employment” — a leading jobs indicator — is up 313,000 in the last 6 months
  3. The average work-week and factory overtime both rose in March — a sign that hiring should increase soon

In general, what’s good for the economy is bad for mortgage rates and that’s one reason why rates spiked Friday. Employment is a keystone in the economic recovery and mortgage markets reacted accordingly.


This week is short on data but there’s a lot to move the markets.


For one, the Federal Reserve has called an emergency meeting to review its Discount Rate policy.  The meeting is called for today, Monday April 5, at 11:30 AM ET.  It’s unknown exactly what the meeting will cover, but if new monetary policy is made, expect that mortgage rates will be influenced.


Also worth watching this week are the technical trading patterns present in the mortgage-backed bond market.


Unlike fundamental trading in which markets move on data and projections, technical trading is how markets move based on patterns over time. The two methods co-exist on Wall Street but, occasionally, technical forces can be pronounced, leading markets to lurch up or down.  This week may be one of those times. 


Mortgage pricing is far below its 200-day moving average, resting slightly north of a key support level. If pricing worsens this week and bonds fall below the support level, mortgage rates could easily tack on quarter-percents or more per day until the market refinds its balance.


Overall, it’s a week you don’t want your rate to be floating. Sure, rates could improve, but there’s a lot more room for them to worsen.

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