With interest rates hitting all-time lows over the past few weeks, many homeowners are opting to refinance. To decide if refinancing your home is the best option for you and your family, start by asking yourself these questions:
Why do you want to refinance?
There are many reasons to refinance, but here are three of the most common ones:
1. Lower Your Interest Rate and Payment: This is the most popular reason. Is your current interest rate higher than what’s available today? If so, it might be worth seeing if you can take advantage of the current lower rates.
2. Shorten the Term of Your Loan: If you have a 30-year loan, it may be advantageous to change it to a 15 or 20-year loan to pay off your mortgage sooner rather than later.
3. Cash-Out Refinance: You might have enough equity to cash out and invest in something else, like your children’s education, a business venture, an investment property, or simply to increase your cash reserve.
Once you know why you might want to refinance, ask yourself the next question:
How much is it going to cost?
There are fees and closing costs involved in refinancing, and The Lenders Network explains:
“As an example, let’s say your mortgage has a balance of $200,000. If you were to refinance that loan into a new loan, total closing costs would run between 2%-4% of the loan amount. You can expect to pay between $4,000 to $8,000 to refinance this loan.”
They also explain that there are options for no-cost refinance loans, but be on the lookout:
“A no-cost refinance loan is when the lender pays the closing costs for the borrower. However, you should be aware that the lender makes up this money from other aspects of the mortgage. Usually charging a slightly higher interest rate so they can make the money back.”
Keep in mind that, given the current market conditions and how favorable they are for refinancing, it can take a little longer to execute the process today. This is because many other homeowners are going this route as well. As Todd Teta, Chief Officer at ATTOM Data Solutions notes about recent mortgage activity:
“Refinancing largely drove the trend, with more than twice as many homeowners trading in higher-interest mortgages for cheaper ones than in the same period of 2018.”
Clearly, refinancing has been on the rise lately. If you’re comfortable with the up-front cost and a potential waiting period due to the high volume of requests, then ask yourself one more question:
Is it worth it?
To answer this one, do the math. Will it help you save money? How much longer do you need to own your home to break even? Will your current home meet your needs down the road? If you plan to stay for a few years, then maybe refinancing is your best move.
If, however, your current home doesn’t fulfill your needs for the next few years, you might want to consider using your equity for a down payment on a new home instead. You’ll still get a lower interest rate than the one you have on your current house, and with the equity you’ve already built, you can finally purchase the home you’ve been waiting for.
Today, more than ever, it’s important to start working with a trusted real estate advisor. Whether you connect by phone or video chat, a real estate professional can help you understand how to safely navigate the housing market so that you can prioritize the health of your family without having to bring your plans to a standstill. Whether you’re looking to refinance, buy, or sell, a trusted advisor knows the best protocol as well as the optimal resources and lenders to help you through the process in this fast-paced world that’s changing every day.
Some are afraid the real estate market may be looking a lot like it did prior to the housing crash in 2008. One of the factors they’re pointing at is the availability of mortgage money. Recent articles about the availability of low-down payment loans and down payment assistance programs are causing concern that we’re returning to the bad habits of a decade ago. Let’s alleviate the fears about the current mortgage market.
The Mortgage Bankers’ Association releases an index several times a year titled: The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI). According to their website:
“The MCAI provides the only standardized quantitative index that is solely focused on mortgage credit. The MCAI is…a summary measure which indicates the availability of mortgage credit at a point in time.”
Basically, the index determines how easy it is to get a mortgage. The higher the index, the more available the mortgage credit.
Here is a graph of the MCAI dating back to 2004, when the data first became available:As we can see, the index stood at about 400 in 2004. Mortgage credit became more available as the housing market heated up, and then the index passed 850 in 2006. When the real estate market crashed, so did the MCAI (to below 100), as mortgage money became almost impossible to secure.
Thankfully, lending standards have eased since. The index, however, is still below 200, which is half of what it was before things got out of control.
It is easier to get a mortgage today than it was immediately after the market crash, but it is still difficult. The difference in 2006? At that time, it was difficult not to get a mortgage.
- The Veterans Administration (VA) Home Loan is a benefit that is available to more than 22 million veterans and 2 million active duty service members to help them achieve the dream of homeownership.
- In 2018, $161 billion was loaned to veterans and their families through the program.
- In the same year, the average loan amount was $264,197 and 610,513 loans were guaranteed.
Today, on Veterans Day, we salute those who have served our country in war or peace, and we thank them for their sacrifice.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of VA Home Loan Benefit offerings through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill. Since 1944, this law has created opportunities for those who have served our country, ranging from vocational training to home loans.
Facts About VA Home Loans:
- Nearly 24 million home loans have been guaranteed by the Veterans Administration.
- Nearly 82% of VA home loans are made with no down payment.
- The VA also provides grants to help seriously disabled Veterans purchase, modify, or construct a home to meet their needs. Last year the VA provided 2,000 grants totaling $104 million.
Benefits of a VA Home Loan:
- No down payment
- No Private Mortgage Insurance*
- Lower credit score requirements
- Limitation on closing costs
- Lower average interest rates
The best thing you can do today to celebrate Veterans Day is to share this information with those who can benefit from these opportunities. For more information, or to find out how to qualify to use a VA Home Loan Benefit, let’s get together to navigate through the process. Thank you for your service!
In the third quarter of 2019, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling another strong indicator of the current housing market.
The U.S. Census Bureau announced,
“The homeownership rate of 64.8 percent was not statistically different from the rate in the third quarter 2018 (64.4 percent), but was 0.7 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent).”
Today there is still a lack of inventory, particularly at the entry and middle-level segments of the market, but that is not stopping buyers from making every effort to pursue homeownership. The many financial and non-financial benefits continue to drive the American Dream and will likely do so for generations to come.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, let’s get together to make your dream a reality.
A considerable number of potential buyers shy away from the real estate market because they’re uncertain about the buying process – particularly when it comes to qualifying for a mortgage.
For many, the mortgage process can be scary, but it doesn’t have to be!
In order to qualify in today’s market, you’ll need a down payment (the average down payment on all loans last year was 5%, with many buyers putting down 3% or less), a stable income, and a good credit history.
Once you’re ready to apply, here are 5 easy steps Freddie Mac suggests to follow:
- Find out your current credit history and credit score– Even if you don’t have perfect credit, you may already qualify for a loan. The average FICO Score® for all closed loans in September was 737, according to Ellie Mae.
- Start gathering all of your documentation– This includes income verification (such as W-2 forms or tax returns), credit history, and assets (such as bank statements to verify your savings).
- Contact a professional– Your real estate agent will be able to recommend a loan officer who can help you develop a spending plan, as well as help you determine how much home you can afford.
- Consult with your lender– He or she will review your income, expenses, and financial goals in order to determine the type and amount of mortgage you qualify for.
- Talk to your lender about pre-approval– A pre-approval letter provides an estimate of what you might be able to borrow (provided your financial status doesn’t change) and demonstrates to home sellers that you’re serious about buying.
Do your research, reach out to professionals, stick to your budget, and be sure you’re ready to take on the financial responsibilities of becoming a homeowner.