Archives for February 2013

What is the Difference Between Fannie Mae Homepath and Freddie Mac Homesteps? [UPDATED]

EDITORS NOTE: Fannie Mae is no longer offering the FannieMae HomePath mortgage program. If you are considering buying a Fannie Mae HomePath property (foreclosure that is owned by Fannie Mae) in Washington state, I’m happy to help you.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both offer special incentives to entice buyers to properties they have foreclosed on. Fannie Mae’s program is called Homepath and Freddie Mac’s is Homesteps. Although the names some similar, their incentives are VERY different. What Fannie Mae Homepath and Freddie Mac Homesteps do have in common is that the properties are generally in better shape than other distressed homes.

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The Seattle – Bellevue – Everett area named as a Top 5 Place to Sell Your Home

Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch has named the Seattle – Bellevue – Everett area as one top five markets in the nation for selling your home. From the article:

Homes are flying off the market in Seattle. Listed properties spent a median of 56 days on the market as of January, down 38% from a year ago, according to That’s almost half the median time homes are listed nationally….

….buyers have been left with a smaller number of homes to bid on, which in turn encourages multiple offers on properties that can push the purchase price higher than the asking price, experts say. There were fewer than 4,000 homes for sale in the Seattle metro area as of January, down 44% from a year prior, according to  

This morning’s S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index also provides some positive data revealing that the Greater Seattle’s prices are up 8.2% year-over-year.

For hopeful home buyers, this means they need to make sure they have their ducks in a row before making an offer on a home. Home buyers in competitive markets like Seattle, Bellevue or Everett should contact a mortgage professional early on to start the preapproval process. The preapproval process typically only takes a day or two once the home buyer provides all the necessary supporting documentation. However it pays to get started early just in case there are situations that could be improved (such as credit scores, savings, etc.). 

The FHFA released their report on mortgage interest rates showing that rates trending higher since late November 2012 for the 30 year fixed conforming mortgage. If you’ve been following my rate quotes on Twitter, you may have realized this trend. Although rates are still very low, they are trending higher and have been for a few months.

If you are considering selling your home in the greater Seattle area, please don’t rule out buyers who are approved with FHA or VA financing. FHA and VA loans are much easier to underwrite and process in today’s market. In fact, they’re pretty much like a conventional mortgage. Plus buyers who qualify for FHA or VA loans are able to have higher loan amounts than conforming in our area.

Loan Limits for Seattle – Bellevue – Everett

Conforming: $506,000

FHA: $567,500

VA Jumbo: $1 million. $500,000 is the loan limit if the Veteran is looking for a zero down home. After $500,000, the down payment is 25% of the difference between the $500,000 limit and the sales price.

NOTE: Congress has been discussing rolling back loan limits. This is another reason to consider selling now if you have a home that would be impacted with reduced loan limits.

By the way, I have been in the real estate industry for just shy of 27 years. My first fourteen years were in the title and escrow industry and for the last 13 years, I have been a mortgage originator at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. I’ve worked with many real estate agents over my career and I’m happy to recommend one to you if you are considering selling or buying a home.

Mortgage rate update for the week of February 25, 2013

This week is packed with economic indicators that may impact the direction of mortgage interest rates. Mortgage rates have been slowly inching higher since the end of last year. Rates are still very low and you can still get a 30 year in the 3’s – the rate just cost more than it did a month ago.

Here are a few of the economic indicators scheduled to be released this week:

Tuesday, February 26: S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, New Home Sales and Consumer Confidence

Wednesday, February 27: Durable Goods Orders and Pending Home Sales

Thursday, February 28: Initial Jobless Claims, GDP – Gross Domestic Product and Chicago PMI

Friday, March 1: Personal Consumption Expenditures and Core PCE, ISM Index and Consumer Sentiment Index (UoM)

Tomorrow, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke will be in front of Congress to begin his two day testimony on monetary policy. In addition, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts are set to go into effect on Friday unless Congress takes action.

Remember, mortgage rates are based on mortgage backed securities (bonds) and when stocks are performing, mortgage rates tend to rise. This is because investors will trade the safety of bonds for the possible higher return available from stocks.

The only way to secure today’s mortgage rate is by locking it! You can see examples of “live” mortgage rates I’m quoting by following me on Twitter @mortgageporter or Facebook/WashingtonMortgagePro.

If I can help you with your refinance or home purchase on property located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me.

FOMC Minutes and Tid Bits

Yesterday the Fed released minutes from last month’s FOMC meeting. The minutes reveal the committee is debating easing or ceasing the purchase of mortgage backed securities before the end of this year. 

A number of participants stated that an ongoing evaluation of the efficacy, costs, and risks of asset purchases might well lead the Committee to taper or end its purchases before it judged that a substantial improvement in the outlook for the labor market had occurred.

The Fed cannot continue to keep mortgage rates at their manipulated lows forever. Industry experts estimate that if the Fed was not involved with keeping mortgage rates low with the buying of mortgage backed securities, rates would be closer to “jumbo” rates (about a full point higher in rate).

Other points I of interest from the minutes – at least to me 🙂  

…some participants were concerned that the recent increase in the payroll tax could have a significant negative effect on spending, particularly on the part of lower-income consumers.

Effective the beginning of this year, did you notice your pay check is 2% less? Congress allowed the expiration of the payroll tax cut to expire during the “fiscal cliff”. During 2011 and 2012, Americans caught a break and only paid 4.2% of their incomes for social security; we’re now back to paying 6.2%. If your monthly gross income is $5000, then your monthly take home pay is $100 less than what you had before this payroll tax.

If you’re a home owner who has not refinanced in the last year, you may want to contact your local mortgage professional to see if it makes sense. Reducing your mortgage rate can help off set the payroll tax and reduce the amount of interest you’re paying on your mortgage.  Click here if you would like a rate quote for homes located anywhere in Washington state.

Participants remarked on the ongoing recovery in the housing market, pointing variously  to rising house prices, growth in residential construction and sales, and the lower inventory of homes for sale. A number of participants thought it likely that higher home values and low mortgage rates were helping support other sectors of the economy as well, and a couple saw the housing market as having the potential to cause overall growth to be stronger than expected this year…

In the greater Seattle area, home prices continue to increase and I’m hearing from home buyers that they wish there was more inventory to chose from. If you’ve been considering selling your home, this could be a good time to meet with a real estate agent. If you need me to refer one to you, I’m happy to do so! 

….Nonetheless, it was noted that mortgage credit remained tight and the fraction of homeowners with mortgage balances exceeding the value of their homes remained high.

Those seeking a mortgage, whether it’s for refinancing or buying a home do need to qualify and it is a “full doc” process. However, it’s not impossible. You need to be prepared to provide all income and asset documents, have steady employment and good credit. If you are considering buying a home (or even refinancing) in the next 12 months, I recommend starting with a preapproval now. 

Home owners who are still upside down with the loss of their home equity may still be able to take advantage of today’s low rates if:

  • they qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP 2.0). This is eligible for conforming mortgages securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009 on primary residences, second homes or investment properties. Or…
  • the existing mortgage to refinance is FHA, an FHA streamlined refinance may be possible for primary residence or investment properties. Or…
  • the existing mortgage is VA or USDA. 

If you are looking at buying a home or refinancing anywhere in the state of Washington, I’m happy to help you!

Five weeks remaining before FHA mortgage insurance premiums increase

HUD has scheduled another increase to FHA annual mortgage insurance premiums effective with new case numbers obtained April 1, 2013 and later. FHA’a annual mortgage insurance premiums are paid monthly and are set to rise by 10 basis points.

For example, a base loan amount of $400,000 with a loan to value of 95% or lower, currently has a monthly mortgage insurance premium of $396.65 based on a rate of 1.20%. After the new mortgage insurance rates go into effect, this monthly premium will be $429.71 – an increase of $33.06 per month.

NOTE: Home owners who currently have FHA insured mortgages for their primary or investment properties and who had those mortgages guaranteed by FHA prior to June 1, 2009 will still qualify for reduced mortgage insurance premiums with FHA streamlined refinances. If you’re not one of these lucky home owners, you may want to take action now!

In addition, with new FHA loans as of June 3, 2013, FHA mortgage insurance will remain on the life of the loan. The only way to terminate it is to refinance out of an FHA loan or pay the loan off. Currently, FHA annual mortgage insurance is set to drop off the loan after it reaches a 78% loan to value and a minimum of 60 mortgage payments have been made. However with a minimum down payment scenario, it often takes closer to nine years before the loan to value reaches 78%. I would bet that many Washington home owners either refinance or sell their homes before their mortgage insurance drops off. Regardless, if you want to avoid having to pay FHA mortgage insurance for the life of that FHA insured mortgage, you’ll need to have your FHA case number prior to June 3, 2013.

What can you do?

If you want to avoid having a higher mortgage payment and you’re considering an FHA loan for your refinance or home purchase, you have a short window of opportunity to secure your lower payment now. An FHA Case number is not your application date. It is actually obtained shortly after you have a bona fide transaction and application. As we near the April 1 date, if you have a new FHA mortgage in process, you will want to confirm with your mortgage professional that your FHA case number has been secured. (They can provide you your FHA case number as proof).

I have been helping people with FHA insured mortgages since April 2000 at Mortgage Master Service Corporation. If you would like me to provide you with a rate quote for your home located anywhere in Washington State, click here.

Mortgage rate update for the week of February 18, 2013

The stock and bond markets are closed today in observance of President’s Day. Here are a few of the economic indicators scheduled to be released this week.

Wed. February 20: Building Permits; Producer Price Index (PPI); Housing Starts; FOMC Minutes released

Thurs. February 21: Consumer Price Index (CPI); Initial Jobless Claims; Philadelphia Fed Index; Existing Home Sales

Watch for signs of inflation from the PPI or CPI, which tends to drive mortgage rates higher. Wall Street will also be paying close attention to the FOMC minutes.

Happy President’s Day!

Home Affordable Refinance Program: HARP 2.0 Updates

I’m pleased to share with you that we are working with lenders who are once again offering HARP 2.0 refinances with no appraisals (no loan to value requirements). Last year, our Freddie Mac resource for loan to values over 105% decided to pull out of the market, we now have another lender who is offering this product without loan to values overlays. This is great news for Washington state home owners who have lost equity in their homes (are underwater) and have a mortgage securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. 

For more information about HARP 2.0 refinances, please check out my reference guide.

We also received updated guidelines from one of our Freddie Mac HARP lenders for loan to values 105% and lower offering reduced income documentation and expanded debt-to-income ratio guidelines. It’s nice to see lenders loosen up a bit on some of their underwriting overlays!

Fannie Mae HARP refinances are still readily available.

For your HARP 2.0 refinance rate quote on your home located anywhere in Washington state, please click here.

HARP 2.0 Refinances are available for:

  • mortgages that were securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009
  • primary residence, second/vacation homes or investment property
  • mortgages that have not yet taken advantage of the HARP refinance program
  • existing private mortgage insurance (including LPMI) is allowed in most circumstances

I am required to use the following language if I am soliciting business…and of course, I would love to help you with your HARP (or any) refinance for your home located in Washington State:

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have adopted changes to the Home Affordable Refinance program (HARP) and you may be eligible to take advantages of these changes. If your mortgage is owned or guaranteed by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae, you may be eligible to refinance your mortgage under the enhanced and expanded provisions of HARP. You can determine whether your mortgage is owned by either Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae by checking the following websites: or

NOTE: If your Washington state home currently has an FHA mortgage, owner occupied or investment property, we can help you refinance without an appraisal – regardless of your home’s current value. 

I’m happy to help you with your home refinance or purchase needs as long as your home is located in Washington state, where I’m licensed to originate mortgages.  For mortgage rate quotes for homes other than HARP, please click here.

Upcoming changes to FHA Reverse Mortgages

A reverse mortgage is a program that is designed specifically for senior citizens (62 years and older). Unlike a traditional mortgage where monthly mortgage payments are required, reverse mortgages do not require a monthly mortgage payment (property taxes and home owners insurance is still due). 

Reverse mortgages are a great option for seniors to consider if they want to reduce their monthly cash flow or require a sum of cash. 

Recently HUD has announced they are changing some of their reverse mortgage (home equity conversion mortgage aka “HECM”) program guidelines which will go into effect with case numbers issued April 1, 2013 and after.

From HUD’s Press Release:

As discussed in its Annual Report to Congress, FHA will consolidate its Standard Fixed-Rate Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) and Saver Fixed Rate HECM pricing options. This change will be effective for FHA case numbers assigned on or after April 1, 2013. The Fixed Rate Standard HECM pricing option currently represents a large majority of the loans insured through FHA’s HECM program and is responsible for placing significant stress on the MMI Fund. To help sustain the program as a viable financial resource for aging homeowners, the HECM Fixed Rate Saver will be the only pricing option available to borrowers who seek a fixed interest rate mortgage. Using the HECM Fixed Rate Saver for fixed rate mortgages will significantly lower the borrower’s upfront closing costs while permitting a smaller pay out than the HECM Fixed Rate Standard product, thereby reducing risks to the Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund. Read FHA’s new HECM Mortgagee Letter.

If you would like more information about a reverse mortgage for you or your parents on a home located anywhere in Washington state, please contact me.