Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step

Pre-Approval Should Always Be Your First Step | MyKCM

In many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes greatly outnumbers the amount of homes for sale. This has led to a competitive marketplace where buyers often need to stand out. One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search.

Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, knowing your budget will give you the confidence of knowing if your dream home is within your reach.

Freddie Mac lays out the advantages of pre-approval in the My Home section of their website:

“It’s highly recommended that you work with your lender to get pre-approved before you begin house hunting. Pre-approval will tell you how much home you can afford and can help you move faster, and with greater confidence, in competitive markets.”

One of the many advantages of working with a local real estate professional is that many have relationships with lenders who will be able to help you with this process. Once you have selected a lender, you will need to fill out their loan application and provide them with important information regarding “your credit, debt, work history, down payment and residential history.” 

Freddie Mac describes the 4 Cs that help determine the amount you will be qualified to borrow:

  1. Capacity: Your current and future ability to make your payments
  2. Capital or cash reserves: The money, savings, and investments you have that can be sold quickly for cash
  3. Collateral: The home, or type of home, that you would like to purchase
  4. Credit: Your history of paying bills and other debts on time

Getting pre-approved is one of many steps that will show home sellers that you are serious about buying, and it often helps speed up the process once your offer has been accepted.

Bottom Line

Many potential home buyers overestimate the down payment and credit scores needed to qualify for a mortgage today. If you are ready and willing to buy, you may be pleasantly surprised at your ability to do so as well.

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2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | MyKCM

In Realtor.com’s recent article, “Home Buyers’ Top Mortgage Fears: Which One Scares You?” they mention that “46% of potential home buyers fear they won’t qualify for a mortgage to the point that they don’t even try.”

Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”

Buyers overestimate the down payment funds needed to qualify for a home loan. According to the First Quarter 2017 Homeownership Program Index (HPI) from Down Payment Resource, saving for a down payment was the barrier that kept 70% of renters from buying.

Rob Chrane, CEO of Down Payment Resource had this to say,

There are many mortgage-ready renters today, but they don’t know it. Often, homebuyers remain sidelined for years due to the down payment.

Many believe that they need at least 20% down to buy their dream home, but programs are available that allow buyers put down as little as 3%. Many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined with new programs that have emerged allowing less cash out of pocket.

Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher to Buy”

The survey revealed that 59% of Americans either don’t know (54%) or are misinformed (5%) about what FICO® score is necessary to qualify.

Many Americans believe a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.

To help debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.

2 Myths Holding Back Home Buyers | MyKCM

As you can see in the chart above, 53.2% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 600-749.

Bottom Line

Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Your dream home may already be within your reach.

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | MyKCM

Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.

Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!

Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.

The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!

Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.

Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.

Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.

Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.

The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction | MyKCM

Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.

Lending – During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.

Bottom Line

Additional costs across all 4 ‘L’s have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 ‘L’s can increase!

THREE GREAT REASONS TO CONSIDER A CASH-OUT REFINANCE

Interest rates on home loans are near their best levels of the year, while home values in many parts of the country have increased.  In this environment, many homeowners are considering a “cash-out” refinance.  This is where you pay off your old mortgage by getting a new mortgage with a higher balance.  The difference between the old loan and the higher-balance new loan is called “cash-out.”  That’s because you’re walking away from the new closing with cash.  Here are three reasons why you may want to consider a cash-out refinance:

  • Pay off other debt that may carry a higher after-tax interest rate. For example, the interest on up to $100,000 of cash-out proceeds may be tax deductible if you itemize your deductions and if you’re not subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT).  Please reference IRS publication 936 and see a CPA or tax advisor for more details.
  • Make home improvements – keep in mind that there are some home improvements that may add to the value of the home or at least help you maintain its value. These may include an addition to the house, a new kitchen, and upgraded landscaping.
  • Prepare for a large upcoming expense – increasing your mortgage balance could be a budgeting strategy if you have a large upcoming expense that would otherwise cause you to go into credit card debt. These expenses can include unexpected medical bills, new furniture or major appliances.

The great thing about today’s low-interest rate environment is that your monthly payment on the new mortgage may end up being very close to what you’re paying right now.  Please contact me for more information or to run the numbers for your specific scenario!

Fake News! -the RENT vs. BUY Debate

The TRUTH Behind the RENT vs. BUY Debate | MyKCM

I have not heard this term lately – have you?  The Russian are not hacking the mortgage industry – at least, I believe not yet.  The media has always had differing opinions of topics like this and we felt it was important to share the why.

In a blog post published last Friday, CNBC’s Diana Olnick reported on the latest results of the FAU Buy vs. Rent Index. The index examines the entire US housing market and then isolates 23 major markets for comparison. The researchers at FAU use a “‘horse race’ comparison between an individual that is buying a home and an individual that rents a similar-quality home and reinvests all monies otherwise invested in homeownership.” – can you see the flaw in the logic already?

Having read both the index and the blog post, we would like to clear up any confusion that may exist. There are three major points that we would like to counter:

1. The Title

The CNBC blog post was titled, “Don’t put your money in a house, says a new report.” The title of the press release about the report on FAU’s website was “FAU Buy vs. Rent Index Shows Rising Prices and Mortgage Rates Moving Housing Markets in the Direction of Renting.”

Now, we all know headlines can attract readers and the stronger the headline the more readership you can attract, but after dissecting the report, this headline may have gone too far. The FAU report notes that rising home prices and the threat of increasing mortgage rates could make the decision of whether to rent or to buy a harder one in three metros, but does not say not to buy a home.

2. Mortgage Interest Rates are Rising

According to Freddie Mac, mortgage interest rates reached their lowest mark of 2017 last week at 3.89%. Interest rates have hovered around 4% for the majority of 2017, giving many buyers relief from rising home prices and helping with affordability.

While experts predict that rates will increase by the end of 2017, the latest projections have softened, with Freddie Mac predicting that rates will rise to 4.3% in Q4.

3. “Renting may be a better option than buying, according to the report.”

Of the 23 metros that the study reports on, 11 of them are firmly in buy territory, including New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and more. This means that in nearly half of all the major cities in the US, it makes more financial sense to buy a home than to continue renting one.

In 9 of the remaining metros, the decision as to whether to rent or buy is closer to a toss-up right now. This means that all things being equal, the cost to rent or buy is nearly the same. That leaves the decision up to the individual or family as to whether they want to renew their lease or buy a home of their own.

The 3 remaining metros Dallas, Denver and Houston, have experienced high levels of price appreciation and have been reported to be in rent territory for well over a year now, so that’s not news…

Beer & Cookies

One of the three authors of the study, Dr. Ken Johnson has long reported on homeownership and the decision between renting and buying a home. The methodology behind the report goes on to explain that even in a market where a renter would be able to spend less on housing, they would have to be disciplined enough to reinvest their remaining income in stocks/bonds/other investments for renting a home to be a more attractive alternative to buying.  After 25 years in the mortgage industry I can share that we do not have an epidemic of renters that save money.  Yes there are some but this is not the majority.

Johnson himself has said:

“However, in perhaps a more realistic setting where renters can spend on consumption (beer, cookies, education, healthcare, etc.), ownership is the clear winner in wealth accumulation. Said another way, homeownership is a self-imposed savings plan on the part of those that choose to own.” 

Bottom Line

In the end, you and your family are the only ones who can decide if homeownership is the right path to go down. Real estate is local and every market is different. Let’s get together to discuss what’s really going on in your area and how we can help you make the best, most informed decision for you and your family.

WHAT IS A “NON-CONTINGENT” OFFER?

Many homebuyers today are competing with multiple offers due to the low inventory of homes for sale in their price range.  In this environment, many homebuyers consider placing a “non-contingent” purchase offer on the new home because it could potentially help them win a bidding war. A non-contingent purchase offer means that your offer to buy a house is not contingent (or conditioned upon) any of the common contingencies such as your ability to obtain financing, your ability to sell your current home or an independent appraisal of your new home. Here are three of the common risks associated with making a non-contingent offer:

1 – What if Your Home Doesn’t Sell?
If you waive the contingency of selling your home first, it means that you’re still obligated to purchase the new home even if your old home doesn’t sell.  This only works for homebuyers who don’t currently have a mortgage, or homebuyers who can afford (and get approved for) two mortgage payments – one on the old home, and one on the new home.2 – What if Your Financing Approval Falls Through?
Even if your financing approval is a “done deal”, it’s never really done until you get the money.  For example, what if you lose your job between the time of the financing approval and the time you purchase your new home?

3 – What if the New House Doesn’t Appraise at or Above the Purchase Price?
In this case, you would likely need to come to closing with the difference in the two values.  That’s because mortgage lenders only lend you money based on the LOWER OF the purchase price or appraised value.

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of everything you should know about waiving contingencies!  That’s why it’s important for you to check with a real estate attorney before making this type of decision.

Contact me for more information about your mortgage options.