Archives for September 2012

Is it time for you to refi?

Mortgage rates have been at historic lows for quite some time largely due to the Fed’s purchase of mortgage backed securities. Although the Fed is involved with keep rates at artificial lows, mortgage rates are also influenced by other actions.  For example, yesterday we saw some volatility partially caused by bond traders taking profit. The Fed has indicated they will continue the purchase of mortgage backed securities for an extended period of time. So when is it the right time for you to refinance and lock in a rate?

Locking in a mortgage rate means that you have secured a certain rate at a certain cost (or credit) for a specific amount of days. It’s a “rate lock commitment” for the mortgage originator to deliver that loan to the lender. When you have locked in a mortgage rate, assuming the transaction closes in time, you are assured that you have that rate for that time period. If you wind up needing additional time, you may be able to extend the rate lock commitment for a specific period. Although locking at the begin of a transaction provides you peace of mind that you have that low rate; the risk is that rates may improve.

You can also start the refinance process and “float”. This means that you start your loan application and the entire process until you decide to lock in your interest rate. You don’t have to lock in your rate until about 10 days before you closing. With floating your rate, you’re risking rates may deteriorate before you’re able to lock.

In my opinion, rates are at such low levels, it makes sense to lock now. However, if you’re someone who will be disappointed if rates improve by 0.125% and you don’t mind the risk of a higher rate, floating may be better for you.  

Should you refinance? You may want to consider refinancing if:

  • Your current mortgage rate is in the mid-4s or higher and if you have a conforming loan amount, which in the Seattle area is a loan amount of $506,000 or lower. NOTE: some of my clients are doing “cash in” refinances to bring their loan amount down to $506,000.
  • If your loan amount is over $506,000 and under $567,500 in King, Pierce or Snohomish county and your loan to value is around 95%, you may want to consider an FHA jumbo mortgage.  
  • If you are eligible for a HARP 2.0 refinance. Click here to learn more
  • If you currently have an FHA insured mortgage, you may be eligible for an FHA streamlined refinance. No appraisal is required with an FHA streamlined refi.
  • If you are considering shortening your mortgage term.
  • If you currently have an adjustable rate mortgage and wish to have a fixed rate mortgage.
  • Create more cash flow for your investment property by reducing the rate. NOTE: Investment property may qualify for HARP 2 or FHA streamlined refi’s 

If your home is located anywhere in Washington state, I’m happy to review your scenario for you to see if it makes sense to refinance now. Click here if you would like me to provide you with a rate quote for your home located in Washington. 

A compromise for waiving your escrow reserve account

moneyclockmortgageporterAn escrow reserve account is used to collect and “reserve” the real estate taxes and home owners insurance portion of your monthly mortgage payment for when your taxes and insurance bills are due. In Washington state, property taxes are paid twice a year and home owners insurance is paid annually.

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Mortgage Rate update the week of September 24, 2012

We don’t have economic indicators set to be released today however mortgage rates are being influenced once again by the Eurozone.  There are more potential issues with Greece that may be revealed by the Troika report after our elections.

Here are some of the economic indicators scheduled to be released this week that may impact mortgage rates:

Tuesday, Sept. 25: S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index and Consumer Confidence

Wednesday, Sept. 26: New Home Sales

Thursday, Sept 27: Initial Jobless Claims; Durable Goods Orders; GDP (Gross Domestic Product); Pending Home Sales

TGI Friday, Sept 28: PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures); Chicago PMI and Consumer Sentiment (UoM)

Mortgage rates continue to be at very low levels, even if you have refinanced a year ago, it may be worth considering a refinance. Today’s home buyers may qualify for “more home” thanks to how low today’s mortgage rates are. If you’re considering buying your first or move up home, an investment property or a vacation home, contact your local mortgage professional to get preapproved.

This morning, for a purchase with a sales price of $500,000 with 20% down payment with 740+ credit scores and taxes and insurance included in the mortgage payment, I’m quoting for 30 year fixed: 3.375% (apr 3.440) with a slight rebate credit towards closing cost or 3.250% (apr 3.340) priced with a small discount.

If you are interested in a mortgage for a home located in Redmond, Renton, Redondo or anywhere in Washington, I’m happy to help you!

Back to School!

Today I’m doing something that mortgage originators who work for banks and credit unions don’t have to do: continuing education with an NMLS certified instructor. 

As a Licensed Mortgage Originator, every year I’m required to take 8 hours of continuing education – non-licensed (aka registered) mortgage originators are currently not required to. I hope this changes and I expect it will.  

Why there are different standards for mortgage originators who take residential loan applications is due to the SAFE Act. My suspicion is that powerful banks and credit unions lobbied their Congressmen to have softer rules for their mortgage originators…which they have. (Whenever a mortgage originator at a bank tries to say they are already regulated, I like to point to Washington Mutual). My personal opinion is that banks want to hire less experienced mortgage originators so they can pay them less since they are “bank fed” leads.

Any how, I always look forward to my “class” as my instructor is Jillayne Schlicke and her classes are always informative and very interesting.

I will be back to work tomorrow, Thursday, September 21, 2012.

Should I refinance my car before buying a home?

Short answer: probably not.

Why? The refinance of the car will impact your credit score as if you have purchased a new car. Credit scoring favors established older debt over new debt. Once you have that new loan, even if the payment is lower and interest rate is lower, the established old debt is paid off and eventually loses the positive impact to your credit scores.

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Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac improve HARP 2.0 Underwriting Guidelines

On Friday, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac announced much needed updates to underwriting guidelines for HARP 2.0. The Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0) has helped many Washington state homeowners with conforming mortgages (securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009) take advantage of historically low mortgage rates regardless of their home’s current equity (or lack thereof). You can learn more about the HARP 2.0 program by clicking here.

The recent updates to HARP 2.0 will allow more home owners to have access to this program by reducing documentation requirements for some borrowers. Here are some of the improvements:

  • Reduced documentation for income and assets. NOTE: Form 4506 and verification of employment will still be required. Lenders will not be required to verify large deposits.
  • Allowing borrowers with assets to not have to document income. This is available when a home owner has at least 12 months of their proposed new mortgage payment (PITI) in savings. The assets may come from checking or savings, stocks or vested retirement accounts.
  • Improvements to when a borrower is removed from the mortgage. Previously if a borrower was being removed with the HARP 2.0 refinance, guidelines required proof that the remaining borrower made the mortgage payments for the last year with their own separate funds (except in the case of death). Now with HARP 2.0, in the remaining borrower can qualify on their own (debt to income at 45% or lower and credit scores of 620 or higher) they may qualify for a HARP 2.0 refinance.

Remember, banks and lenders may layer their own underwriting guidelines to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s HARP 2.0 program.

If you have been turned down for a HARP 2.0 refinance before, it may be worth checking with your local, licensed mortgage originator to see if you are now eligible. HARP 2.0 is available for owner occupied, vacation homes and investment properties.  I can help you if your home is located anywhere in Washington State – click here for your HARP 2.0 rate quote.

Mortgage rate update for the week of September 17, 2012

Last week the Fed announced they’re stepping up their purchase of mortgage backed securities to help keep mortgage rates low. While they are doing this, the FHFA (oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) is increasing the cost of conforming mortgages by increasing the “g-fees”. I’m seeing banks and lenders increasing rates from 0.25 to 0.50 in fee (the cost for a certain rate) and up to 0.625% more with extension fees (when your loan does not close in time). 

My advice with mortgage rates tends to be that if you like the rate, you should consider locking it. When it comes to locking rates, do a “gut check”. If you’re more uncomfortable with having a certain rate secured (locked) while rates may improve or if you can stomach not being locked and having mortgage rates increase. 

Here is a list of some of the economic indicators scheduled to be released this week:

Monday, Sept. 17: Empire State Index

Wednesday, Sept 19: Building Permits, Housing Starts and Existing Home Sales

Friday, Sept. 21: Initial Jobless Claims and Philadelphia Fed Index

As I write this post (9/17/12 at 8:45am PST) I’m quoting 3.500% for a 30 year fixed based on a loan amount of $400,000 with a sales price of $500,000 (80% loan to value). Seattle area home buyer has credit scores of 740 or higher and the purchase is closing by October 25, 2012. (apr 3.566) with closing cost estimated at $3525 and a principal and interest payment of $1,166.67 (taxes and insurance are not waived).

If you would like me to provide you with a mortgage rate quote on a home located anywhere in Washington, please contact me.

How can a preapproval change?

MortgageWhen someone becomes “preapproved” for a mortgage, it boils down to they qualify for a certain mortgage payment based on their income and debts (DTI aka debt to income ratio).  A home buyer qualifies for the loan amount of the new mortgage and their funds available for down payment and closing cost determine the sales price.

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