Home Equity Loans and Home Equity Lines of Credit

If you have been wanting to spruce up your kitchen, bathroom or any part of your home and you don’t want to touch your low interest rate on your existing mortgage, a second mortgage could be an option worth considering. [Read more…]

Could you survive one month without income?

With the government shutdown pushing over a month long, some federal employees are having to juggle another missed paycheck. Yesterday during an interview with CNBC, US Commerce Secretary Ross is quoted stating:

“So the 30 days of pay that some people will be out – there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be able to get a loan against it and we’ve seen a number of ads from the financial institutions doing that… there really is not a good excuse why there really should be a liquidity crisis,” he said. “True the people might have to pay a little bit of interest.” [Read more…]

Cash Out Refinances for Student Loans

Fannie Mae has revamped some guidelines regarding student loans and how they are treated in debt to income ratios for qualifying for a mortgage. This is great news… however what’s even better news for home owners who have student loans, Fannie Mae is offering improved pricing on cash out refinances for paying off student loans! [Read more…]

Friday Funny on Debt

All sarcasm aside, if you want to buy or refinance a home, think twice before going deeper into debt.

If buying or refinancing a home in Washington state is on your radar, please contact me – I’m happy to help you with your mortgage needs and develop a game plan.

How does a Loan Mod impact buying your next home?

Many home owners who were unable to refinance and did not qualify for special programs like HARP opted for a loan modification (or loan mod). A loan mod is when the existing mortgage terms are adjusted or modified, in most often cases to reduce the mortgage payment.

To be clear, I am not in the “loan mod” part of the mortgage industry. My focus is on helping Washington home buyers and home owners with mortgages for purchasing a home or refinancing their mortgage.  With my mortgage practice, I do come across home owners who have had a loan mod and they are often surprised to learn how it may impact their odds buying a home. 

Many lenders view a loan modification, if done for reasons of financial distress, as a “pre-foreclosure” or short sale.

A lot will weigh on the borrowers credit report. Lenders will look to see how the loan mod was reported to the bureaus. For example, some lenders may have added language to the credit report such as “PAYING UNDER PARTIAL AGREEMENT” or “LOAN MODIFIED…” which indicates a loan modification has taken place. Lenders will weigh if the borrower had late mortgage payments, how late the payments were and how recent the last late payment took place. 

It’s also possible that the loan mod may not prevent you from buying your next home depending on your circumstances and how the loan mod was reported to the bureaus.

If you’ve had a loan modification in the past few years and are considering buying your next home, you will want to connect with a mortgage professional as soon as possible to see what your options are. 

If you are considering a loan mod, please review this information from Washington State DFI. Another great website for you to check out if you are a Washington state homeowner in distress is www.homeownership.wa.gov.

If you are considering buying a home located in Washington state, I’m happy to help you. Worse case, if you are not able to “buy now” we can work on a plan together so that you’ll be in a better position in the future.

The Fed is Getting Tougher on Credit Card Companies

In a press release earlier this week, the Fed announced they have approved the final rule amending Reg Z regarding credit cards which will go into effect on February 22, 2010.   The new rules set tougher guidelines on credit cards, especially with regards to protecting consumers against rate changes and how they are billed.  

No interest rate increases for the first twelve months.  There are some exceptions such as if you have a variable rate tied to an index; if your rate is an introductory rate (which in that case, your rate must be fixed for a minimum of 6 months); and if you're more than 60 days late on your bill.

Increases to your interest rate can only be applied to your new balance.  Your old balance will keep the lower rate.

Payments will be applied towards the highest interest rates first when you pay more than the minimum payment.  (Some exceptions may apply).

Statements must be mailed or delivered at least 21 days before your payment is due.  Your due date should always be the same day of the month unless it falls on a weekend, in which case your due date will be the following business day.

Charges you make "over the limit" may be restricted (not allowed) unless you give your credit card company permission.

If you're under 21, you may need a cosigner such as a parent, to obtain a credit card.  Guess those credit card companies will have to stop preying on college students unless Mom or Dad agree to cosign.

No two-cycle (double-cycle) billing.  According to the FOMC's site "credit card companies can only impose interest charges on balances in the current billing cycle.

When your rate or fees are going to change, you must be notified 45 days priorto the change taking place.  You will have the option to refuse the change, however this probably means that your canceling your account.  If you do refuse the change, and your account is canceled, the creditor can impose higher payments by requiring to pay off your account in five years.  NOTE: Canceling your account may be damaging to your credit scores.  Should you get a notice that your rate or terms are changing and you don't agree with it, you are probably better off (as far as your credit score is concerned) paying off the card by applying more principal than canceling it with the creditor.

New monthly statements will show you how long it will take you to pay off your credit card making minimum monthly payments as well as what your monthly payment would need to be if you wanted to pay off your card in three years.

I applaud the new credit card rules.  Since their not going into effect until February 22, 2010 you may want to keep an eye on your interest rates…with just over a month before they take place, sly credit card companies may try to sneak a few changes in before things get tougher. 

Breaking Up is Hard to Do…Especially When You Own a Home Together

I’ve written articles before about issues to consider if you’re going through a divorce and have a mortgage…what if you were never married?  Couples (or single people) often buy homes together…what if worse case scenario, it doesn’t work out and one party wants to keep the home?

A divorce decree allows you to refinance to cash out the other spouse and still have the mortgage treated as a “rate term” refinance.  There are significant differences between a cash-out and rate-term refinance.  A cash out refinance is limited to an 85% loan-to-value and the rate is higher (approx. 0.5% in fee at an 80% loan to value with credit scores of 740 and higher).  If there is a court order, it’s possible that FHA might allow a cash-out refi with a non-married co-owner.

There’s also the issue of excise tax.  An excise tax affidavit is filed whenever a deed is recorded (in the State of Washington).  Excise tax may not be due when the person being removed from vesting is pursuant to a divorce decree.  However, when there is no decree or court order involved and the person is being removed, excise tax may be due as they consider the transfer of that person’s interest to the other person “a sale“.  I’m told the county may charge excise tax on half of the underlying mortgage.  As of the date this post was published, King County charges 1.78% for excise tax.   Possible exceptions to this would be if the co-owners were registered as domestic partners, or the transfer of the property to one co-owner is by court order. 

Just like a divorce, simply deeding the property over to the party who’s remaining in the home does not remove the other person from responsibility or liability of the mortgage.  And it probably makes good sense to contact an attorney who specializes in divorce to assist with the separation of the real estate property.

EDITORS NOTE: This post was written in 2009 and may not be as accurate with regards to excise tax with laws regarding recognizing partners since the writing of this post.

New FHA Limits on Cash-Out Refi’s

If you're considering refinancing and you're interested in taking cash-out to pay off debts, make home improvements or to eliminate a second mortgage that you did not obtain when you purchased your home; you have more reason than ever to start now.

Effective on FHA case numbers issued on or after April 1, 2009; FHA will only insure cash-out refinances when the loan to value is 85% or lower than the appraised value.  Your appraised value is not based on what you feel your home is worth — it's based on what your neighbor's have sold their homes for in the past few months.

If you have owned your home for less than 12 months, FHA is limiting cash out refinances to which ever is lower: 85% of the appraised value or 85% of the original sales price. 

According to HUD's Mortgagee Letter 2009-08, this is currently a temporary requirement:

"Given the continued deterioration in the housing market, and FHA's need to limit its exposure to undue risk, this reduction to the maximum LTV for cash-out refinances is being instituted on a temporary basis while FHA further analyzes the housing and mortgage industry as well as its own portfolio to determine whether permanent measures should be taken."

Well, what are you waiting for?  You have two weeks as of today for FHA's expanded cash out guidelines of 95% loan-to-value with loan amounts up to $567,500 in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.   If your home is located in the State of Washington, and you're interested in refinancing, you can apply on line (under Favorite Links).  By the way, I have been originating FHA mortgages for nine years and we have in-house FHA underwriters at Mortgage Master…as I mentioned, I can only help you if your home is in Washington.