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2015 Archives

Groups Differ Over 1st Time Homebuyer Growth
As with so many things, it all depends on whom you ask.

How Maximum Mortgage Amounts Are Determined
Many wannabe house purchasers wonder whether they can afford the price quoted on the house they would like to buy. Or if they have not started their house shopping, they may be wondering what price range they should be exploring.

How, When Fed Move Impacts Consumer Interest Rates
The Federal Reserve's move to boost short-term interest rates last week by a quarter of a percentage point might not change much immediately, financial experts say, but next year or the year after could be a different story if rates keep rising.

Tool Helps Reverse Mortgage Shoppers
Past efforts to provide senior homeowners with the tools needed to obtain competitive pricing on government-insured reverse mortgages, or home-equity conversion mortgages, have been only partly successful.

What to Consider on 2nd Home Purchases
Daydreaming of owning a second, seasonal home? A mountainside vacation house with a fireplace or two, ski-in access and powdery slopes nearby or perhaps lakefront property with front porch and a sweeping view of the sunlight on the water?

How Mortgage Approvals Went From Easy to Hard
I have been turned down by two different lenders, despite a credit score of 800 and having the ability to make a 50 percent down payment, because my tax return for last year didn't show enough income from my business. Does this make sense?

Ins and Outs of Selling Current Home to Buy Another
Homeowners sell their homes and buy other homes for a variety of reasons, including a need to live closer to a place of employment, to be closer to family, to enjoy a better climate, or simply to upgrade.

How to Build Good Credit
You likely know the pivotal role good credit plays when you try to buy a house or a car.

4 Steps to Finding Right Reverse Mortgage
The Federal Housing Administration's home-equity conversion mortgage, or HECM, reverse mortgage offers multiple options that are designed to meet a wide range of senior needs and capacities. This is a major strength of the program, but it can also be a weakness. Multiple options make the program complex, which opens the door to poor decisions that can be costly.

FHA Makes it Easier to Finance Condo Purchase
Condominiums are often the most affordable option for first-time homebuyers, but federal rules have made it hard to get mortgages on them.

Lease-Purchases Turn Florida Renters Into Homeowners
When Carol Gardner caught wind that her Ocala, Florida, apartment complex was going to triple the rent for new residents, she decided it was time to look into buying.

Millennials Choose Existing Homes Over New Ones
Millennials have put off homeownership longer than any generation before them.

Economists See Moderation in Home Price Increases
SAN DIEGO -- After a couple years of soaring costs, home price increases should moderate in 2016.

Understanding Mortgage Costs
How much is this mortgage going to cost me? How much would the closing costs be for this mortgage? And how do the closing costs compare with other loan offers?

NOHOs Should Keep Renting, Avoid Buying
Some people are not cut out for homeownership.

Down Payment is Obstacle in Home Purchase
Owning a house will take a smaller share of your paycheck than renting, but saving enough for a down payment continues to keep people form buying, a new report shows.

Report Recommends Consumers Freeze Credit Reports
So far this year, more than 100 data breaches have resulted in an estimated 153 million financial records being stolen -- hitting big names such as Experian, T-Mobile, Anthem and U.S. government personnel records -- with most of the victims being offered free credit monitoring services as a check against ID theft.

Understanding Lease-to-Own Home Transactions
A lease-to-own house purchase, henceforth LTO, is a lease combined with an option to purchase the property within a specified period, usually three years or less, at an agreed-upon price.

Choosing Best Reverse Mortgage Lender
My article last week was the first installment of a two-part series on how a senior can safely navigate the highly dysfunctional reverse mortgage market.

Warning Issued About Refinance Scams
With the Federal Reserve expected to raise interest rates before the end of the year, many homeowners are looking to refinance before the rates go up.

Understanding FHA Reverse Mortgage Options
The home equity conversion mortgage, the Federal Housing Administration's reverse mortgage program, is a beautifully designed financial instrument that can meet a wide variety of senior needs.

Program Helps Californians With Down Payment, Closing Costs
The Sacramento-based California Housing Finance Agency said Monday that it has launched the "MyHome Assistance Program" for first-time homebuyers who may need help with down payment or closing costs when purchasing a home.

Simple Interest Home Loans Require Discipline
I represent a couple facing the foreclosure of their home. ... My clients' loan is currently being calculated as a daily simple interest loan, which is causing them to be in default. ... Attached is a copy of the note, deed of trust and a payment history.

When to Use, Not Use Home to Finance Auto
We're into October, which means it's the time of year when car-buying ramps up as new models flood dealer lots.

Mortgage Rule Change Helps More Homebuyers Qualify
New rules adopted last month by Fannie Mae will allow mortgage applicants to qualify for a home loan by counting the salaries of other relatives who live in the house -- although their names may not be listed on the mortgage.

New Mortgage Rules Extend Home Purchases by Weeks
Maine homebuyers, consider yourselves warned: Recent changes in the rules for mortgage lenders are expected to significantly extend the time it takes to close on a typical home purchase, from 45 days to at least 60 days.

Understanding the Language of Home Lending
If you've ever shopped for a mortgage, you've probably been overwhelmed by an alphabet soup of acronyms that seem to be designed to confuse the borrower at every turn.

Reverse Mortgages Better Than HELOCs
After some deep thought and research, I could find only one situation where a home-equity line of credit, or HELOC, might work better than a home-equity conversion mortgage, or HECM, in meeting the needs of consumers.

What to Look For When Getting a HELOC
Do I shop for a home-equity line-of-credit, or HELOC, in the same way as I would shop for another mortgage?

New Mortgage Disclosures Expected to Delay Closings
Big changes are planned for how homebuyers finance their mortgages, and that almost certainly means that closings will take longer. In some cases, closings that now speed through in 30 days probably will require at least 60 days.

Homebuyers Typically Out In Force During September
Jonathan Smoke, or DJ Smokey Smoke -- as the chief economist referred to himself at one point, visited Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley on Wednesday and dropped some knowledge on about 115 real estate professionals.

Credit Report Mistake Consequences Can Be Serious
You open up your credit report and it says you have a bad debt but you know it isn't true. How common is that?

Understanding New Mortgage Disclosures
Consumer-minded changes to the home-buying process are set to go into effect next month, leaving some in the mortgage industry wary of the potential creation of inefficiencies in the process.

A Little Insight About Reverse Mortgages
It's unlikely the costs of food, heat and medical care will remain unchanged after retirement.

Detroit Buyers Get Downpayment Help from Wells Fargo
Potential home buyers in Detroit and other communities will soon have a new source of down payment assistance from a Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., special program.

Mortgage Lenders To Begin Providing New Documents
A change in mortgage lending set to take effect Oct. 3 will provide another level of protection for consumers, but will create short-term growing pains for lenders.

Credit Score Myths, Truths
What you don't know can hurt your credit score.

Impact of Eventual Fed Rate Hike
Homebuyers were granted a reprieve to lock in today's relatively low mortgage rates with the Federal Reserve's decision not to raise interest rates this month while the global economy shows weakness and inflation is under the Fed's targeted rate of 2 percent.

Mortgage Income Qualifying, Lender Forgiveness
Some of the questions I get from readers make me wince.

How to Come Up With Down Payment for Home Purchase
You've found the perfect house. Interest rates are still low. There's just one thing standing between you and your dream: a down payment.

Down Payment Options on Home Purchases
Are there any substitutes for a down payment?

Using Free Credit Scores to Enhance Interest Rates
For the last decade, major credit bureaus have been required by federal law to provide consumers with one free copy of their credit report -- a tally of credit accounts and payment histories -- each year. But consumers generally had to to pay to see their credit scores.

When Will Mortgage Rates Rise?
If you had said four years ago home buyers would see mortgage rates still below 4 percent in 2016, experts would have dismissed you for crazy.

Understanding Down Payments on Home Purchases
Most consumers need to borrow some of the money needed to purchase a home, but lenders will seldom provide it all. Usually, they require that borrowers provide some of the money out of their own resources. This is called the "down payment requirement."

Insurance Requirements for Mortgage Borrowers
Exactly what kind of property insurance is required by law if I have a mortgage? Every year or two, the requirements and costs seem to go up, and now the amount of coverage my lender wants is out of line with the value of my home. Also, can the lender force me to include the insurance payment with my monthly mortgage payment?

Deciding On New Mortgage Options
Mortgage borrowers choosing between different types of mortgages face a puzzle, and that puzzle may be particularly perplexing today.

Contemplating Reverse Mortgage Products
Home equity conversion mortgages, the only type of reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. federal government, reputed to carry high upfront fees, which raises two questions.

Understanding Credit Lines Secured by Your Home
You recently pointed out a slew of problems now faced by borrowers who took out home equity line of credit-style loans, or HELOCs, before the financial crisis. Their timing was terrible, but that's water over the dam. Are conditions now more favorable to borrowers taking out HELOCs?

Many Can Benefit from Government Refinance Program
Many homeowners have heard of HARP, the Home Affordable Refinance Program, which was introduced a few years ago to help homeowners who were "upside down" on their mortgages to refinance and take advantage of decreasing interest rates.

Understanding Mortgage Closing Dates
When buying a home, there is no financial advantage to closing a mortgage on any particular day of the month. When refinancing, however, it's not a good idea to close on a Friday.

When to Accelerate Mortgage Paydown
We are allocating $600 a month to savings. Should we pay down our 4 percent mortgage or put the savings into our retirement account?

Understanding Reverse Mortgage Options
As you near retirement, you may foresee a need for more money in the golden years than your savings can handle.

International Concerns Pull Down US Mortgage Rates
Worries over the Greek debt crisis and the swooning Chinese stock market made it a bit cheaper to get a mortgage this week.

Homebuyers Jump to Action as Rates Rise
After renting a two-bedroom unit for four years in a Pittsburgh suburb, Andy and Sarah Hadad decided the time had come to invest in a home where they could raise their 3-year-old daughter and build equity for their future.

Reverse Mortgages After Death of Homeowner
As more seniors turn to reverse mortgages, their adult children might be puzzled or concerned about what will happen to that debt when their parents die.

How to Best Utilize Mortgage Shopping Websites
Buyers who need a mortgage to purchase a home are less likely to use the Internet to find one than are existing owners looking to refinance, yet the benefits of online shopping are just as large if not larger for homebuyers.

Options for Early Mortgage Paydown
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is a great instrument that has made home ownership possible for millions of consumers, but none of them like the idea of being in debt for 30 years. Those who like it the least and have the poorest understanding of how mortgage amortization works are vulnerable to payoff scam artists, who keep popping up with allegedly easy ways to pay down the balance faster.

Mortgage Rates Up as Real Estate Strengthens
Mortgage rates are looking stable amid an improving housing market, with Freddie Mac's latest survey showing that lenders were offering 30-year fixed-rate home loans this week at an average interest rate of 4.02 percent, up from 4 percent a week ago.

Study Critical of Reverse Mortgage Advertising
No advertisement tells the full story about a product or service.

Homebuyers Race to Beat Jump in Interest Rates
After renting a two-bedroom unit for four years at the Nineteen North Apartments on Route 19 in McCandless, Pennsylvania, Andy and Sarah Hadad decided the time had come to invest in a home where they could raise their 3-year-old daughter and build equity for their future.

Responding to Rising Rates
Whether you're financing a new home or automobile, juggling credit card and installment debt, or making investments to secure a retirement, financial experts generally have one piece of advice -- don't panic and educate yourself on the options that are available.

Seller Financing on Homes Can Be Risky
Question: We rent a house, and the owner wants to sell it to us. Our credit is not so great, and the seller can't afford to pay off the existing mortgage.

Bigger Home Loans Mean Lower Costs
In an example of the housing market's benefits accruing to wealthier homeowners, Zillow finds that the bigger your home loan, the better deal you'll get from lenders.

Higher Mortgage Rates Loom
In moving from London at the beginning of the year, Rose-Linn Jensen would have preferred to spend a year getting familiar with the Los Angeles area before buying a home.

Strong Jobs Report Lifts Mortgage Rates
The average interest rate that lenders offered on 30-year home loans shot back above 4 percent this week for the first time since November, pushed by news of a strengthening economy.

Lingering Damage from Home-Equity Lines of Credits
Ten years ago, we purchased a house for $310,000, which we financed with a first mortgage for $255,000 at 3.75 percent, and a home-equity line of credit, or HELOC, for $65,000 at 3.5 percent. The HELOC amount was at the maximum right from the start, which has ruined our credit, and very soon our payment is going to increase ... how do we get out of this?"

A Closer Look at Credit Scores
How dumb are you about credit scores? A new online quiz can help you find out.

Mortgage Rates Rise to 2015 High
A spate of positive economic reports helped push average fixed mortgage rates this week to their highest level of the year.

Reverse Mortgage is Valuable Option for Seniors
Seniors who accumulate a nest egg during their working years that they then use to maintain their lifestyle during retirement risk running out of money if they live too long.

Understanding FHA Mortgages
The Federal Housing Administration is the government agency that sets standards for building construction, but for homeowners or home buyers it can be a lot more.

Mortgage Rates Holds as Economic News Mixed
Mortgage rates were little changed this week on mixed news for housing, with Freddie Mac saying the average rate for 30-year conventional loans was 3.84 percent, compared with 3.85 percent a week ago.

Improving Economy Drives Mortgage Rates Up
Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages have moved higher three weeks in a row, with Freddie Mac's latest survey showing lenders offering well-qualified borrowers conventional 30-year loans at an average of 3.85 percent, up from 3.8 percent last week.

New Disclosures Could Impact Mortgage Closing Process
South Carolina Realtors is advising real estate agents to talk to a law firm asap about how new federal laws, closing procedures and documents potentially could cause delays at closing.

Home Loan Interest Rates Increase
Interest rates for fixed-rate mortgages rose this week, with the average on a 30-year loan reaching 3.80 percent, up from 3.68 percent a week earlier, Freddie Mac said Thursday.

Financing Small Real Estate Loans is Tough
Providing small mortgage loans at non-subsidized prices affordable to the borrower has always been a challenge.

Mortgage Rates Up But Remain Historically Low
Mortgage rates rose slightly this week on mixed economic news, with Freddie Mac's weekly survey of lenders showing the average rate for a conventional 30-year fixed loan at 3.68 percent, up from 3.65 percent last week.

Understanding Mortgage Rate Locks
You have identified the mortgage lender with whom you wish to work, based at least in part on a price quote. You probably know that the price quote doesn't mean anything until it is locked, but few borrowers know all the steps required to get to the lock and the possible costly missteps in the process.

Slight Improvement in Mortgage Rates
Mortgage rates have dropped slightly, Freddie Mac's survey of lenders shows, with the average for a 30-year fixed home loan at 3.65 percent, down from 3.67 percent in last week's report.

ABCs of Mortgage Closing Costs
Taking out a mortgage is a costly enterprise, with fees you probably don't expect. It pays to know what you are in for when applying. Since the housing bust, many lenders tightened their standards, which means more hurdles for you.

Mortgage Qualification Requirements Not Always Clear
Some of the more interesting questions I receive from readers are about unusual situations that may affect their ability to qualify for a mortgage. The rules are not always crystal clear, which is why lenders continue to rely on underwriters whose stock in trade is good judgment. Here are a few illustrations:

Winding Down Mortgage Heading into Retirement
Many people approaching retirement face choices on what to do about their home mortgages, especially if they are nearing a payoff or need to tap the equity for living expenses.

Leave Your Mortgage Outstanding and Invest
Should you invest with your spare cash or pay off your mortgage early? As with most financial planning decisions, the answer is not black and white.

Mortgage Rates Ease On Weak Employment
Fixed mortgage rates moved lower this week on news of weakness in the labor markets, with Freddie Mac saying lenders were offering conventional 30-year loans at an average of 3.66 percent, down from last week's 3.7 percent.

Falling Mortgage Rates a Welcome Sign
Mortgage rates fell this week, with lenders offering a 30-year fixed loan at an average of 3.69 percent, down from 3.78 percent a week ago, Freddie Mac said.

Home Equity Lines of Credit Making Comeback
Mark and Debbie Chupa have lived in their Muskego, Wis., home for 20 years, and for at least the last 15, they've wanted to remodel the kitchen.

Do Research Before Getting a Reverse Mortgage
Lately, seniors have asked me to investigate reverse mortgages. They've seen the television commercials with happy people, traveling and enjoying the high life. They want to know is there a catch?

Mortgage Rates Improve
Long-term interest rates declined this week, with Freddie Mac saying lenders were offering conventional 30-year mortgages at an average of 3.78 percent, down from 3.86 percent a week ago.

Understanding Live Mortgage Pricing
Question: I have read statements by you regarding "live mortgage pricing," but I am not sure what it means or why it is important?

Which Mortgage is Best for You?
Perhaps the most important decision a mortgage borrower makes is the type of mortgage: whether fixed-rate, FRM, or adjustable-rate, ARM, if the mortgage is fixed, the borrower decides the term, if it is adjustable, they decide the initial period until the rate adjusts.

Juggling Current Home Sale With Home Purchase
Home owners buy their second or third homes for a variety of reasons. They may be trading up to get more space and amenities; they may be downsizing, because they don't need as much space and want to cut expenses; they may want to relocate to get closer to their place of employment or their children, or to enjoy a more attractive climate.

Home Buyers Should Act Before Rates Increase
With the Federal Reserve poised to raise short-term interest rates this year, the questions for prospective home buyers are when, if and by how much mortgage interest rates will follow.

Understanding How Mortgages Are Paid Down
Recently, I have been getting a lot of mail from mortgage borrowers asking about amortization. Most are considering whether to pay down their loan balance more rapidly and have suddenly realized that they don't know how best to do that, or even whether it is a good idea because they never fully grasped how mortgage amortization works.

Risks of Credit Lines Secured by Home
Question: My home has no mortgage on it, but I do have a home equity line of credit. What would happen to the HELOC if we were to put the house into a trust?

Strong Employment Report Behind Mortgage Rate Rise
Mortgage rates rose this week on news of an improving economy, Freddie Mac said, with lenders offering conventional 30-year home loans at an average of 3.69 percent compared with 3.59 percent last week.

Shopping for Best Mortgage Rate
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau deplores the fact that almost half of the home buyers it recently surveyed did not shop for a mortgage but dealt with a single loan provider. To encourage shopping, the agency has developed a "Check Interest Rate" tool. It advises borrowers: "As you start talking to lenders, compare their offers to the rates in the tool to see if you are getting a good deal."

Mortgage Rates Fall to 20-Mth Low on Soft Economy
Fixed mortgage interest rates fell this week to their lowest level in more than 20 months, with Freddie Mac reporting that lenders were offering conventional 30-year loans at an average of 3.59 percent, down from 3.66 percent a week ago.

Why Mortgage Rates Vary Between Consumers
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently unveiled an Internet-based tool designed to help consumers shop effectively for the lowest possible mortgage interest rate. For this tool to work, it must help mortgage shoppers distinguish between rate differences that are justified, which borrowers would have to pay in a perfect market no matter how effectively they shop; and rate differences that arise because lenders know more than borrowers and control the process, which might be overcome by effective shopping.

Reduced FHA Premiums Benefit First Time Homebuyers
When the recession took the country by storm, the housing market was hit very hard. For years many people shyed away from buying or selling a home.

1st Increase in Mortgage Rates This Year
Fixed mortgage rates this week rose for the first time in 2015, with Freddie Mac's widely watched survey pegging the 30-year conventional rate at 3.66 percent, up from 3.63 percent last week.

Resolving Important Mortgage Issues by Letter
Q: I am downsizing by purchasing a smaller home that will be my primary residence. Because I do not have my existing house on the market, the lender I approached to finance the purchase has asked me for a letter describing my reasons for the purchase. I intend eventually to sell my current primary home, but for now, I will most likely rent it to a friend for some time. What should I include in my letter that would satisfy this lender?

Determining When it Makes Sense to Refinance
Despite the recent increase in the growth rate of the economy, interest rates remain stubbornly low. Many mortgage borrowers who to this point have procrastinated in making a refinance decision are wondering whether the market fates are giving them another shot. And some who did refinance earlier are wondering whether they ought to do it again. A critical question for these borrowers is the degree of certainty they can have that a refinance will provide a net benefit. This article discusses three approaches to that question that have emerged over the years, and a new approach introduced here.

Urgency to Move on Reverse Mortgage Decision
Financial planners are assiduously courting seniors whose wealth is large enough to generate attractive fees for the planner who gets to manage it but not large enough to eliminate the possibility the senior will run out of money. A favorite planning tactic is to calculate an annual asset liquidation plan that is consistent with a target probability of running out -- 3 percent and 4 percent are numbers I have seen.

Reverse Mortgages Not Always a Good Option
Retirement is an increasingly scary prospect. Some experts say a couple will require at least $2 million to live comfortably. Some say you should have at least 10 times your annual salary socked away.

Home Loan Rates Lowest Since 2013
Mortgage rates declined for the third straight week, with lenders on average offering 3.63 percent on a 30-year fixed loan, Freddie Mac reported Thursday.

Changes to Mortgage Programs Benefit Buyers
A pair of announcements may bode well for first-time home buyers and the local housing market in 2015.

Understanding Adjustable-Rate Reverse Mortgages
A reader caught me off guard the other day by saying that she had counted 28 articles on adjustable-rate mortgages on my website, but all of them pertained to standard mortgages. Not one applied to reverse mortgages, and she wondered whether that was because the issues were exactly the same? I winced at that, because the issues are not the same -- not even close.

Marriage Less of Factor Today In Getting Mortgage
In more than two decades as a real estate agent, Marc Tahler has seen his client base of would-be buyers shift.

How to Pay Off Mortgage Faster
Paying off a mortgage in 10 years sounds crazy, right?

Behavior Modifications That Enable Homeownership
Some readers of last week's column recognized themselves in my description of a "NOHO:" someone not cut out to be a homeowner. NOHOs live paycheck to paycheck, price substantial purchases in terms of the monthly financing charge and typically have no reserve for meeting unexpected contingencies.

When it Makes Sense to Own a Home
Some people are not cut out to be homeowners. I call them NOHOs. What distinguishes them is not their income, their mobility, or where they live -- rather, it is how they live.

Factors to Weigh in Considering 2nd Home Purchase
Daydreaming of owning a second, seasonal home? A mountainside vacation house with a fireplace or two, ski-in access and powdery slopes nearby or perhaps lake front property with front porch and a sweeping view of the sunlight on the water?

Consumer Mortgage News Archives

Refinance News
News about refinance programs, pricing and production.
H A R P 2.0 News
News stories about the H o m e Affordable Refinance Program including expanded program guidelines.

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