Pre-Approval: Be Smart – The First Step to Home Buying

Pre-Approval: Your 1st Step in Buying a Home | MyKCMIn many markets across the country, the number of buyers searching for their dream homes outnumbers the number 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, understanding 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 local lenders who will be able to help you through 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.” Aside from the application information it is very important to obtain some upfront expectations on price point, payment amount and cash to close.

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 homebuyers either underestimate or overestimate the down payment and credit scores necessary 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.  Ask us about our Home Express Mortgage Plan and how this can save you time and money in the home buying process.

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Two Ways Rising Mortgage Rates Could Impact You

According to the Freddie Mac weekly market survey, mortgage rates have increased by 0.5% in the past year (April 2017 – April 2018). This means your monthly payment today could be approx. $30/month higher than it was last year for every $100,000 you borrow.  Here are two ways this could impact you:

1 – If You’re Thinking of Buying a Home
It may be worthwhile for you to consider buying a home now instead of waiting.  That’s because most economists anticipate that interest rates will continue to go up throughout this year due to:

  • Risk of higher inflation, which leads to higher interest rates
  • A greater supply of bonds due to growing budget deficits
  • Less demand for bonds due to the Fed winding down their bond-buying program

It may benefit you to lock in today’s rates instead of waiting for interest rates and monthly payments to move higher.

2 – If You’re Thinking of Making Home Improvements
You may be able to fund your new project by using a “cash-out” mortgage refinance.  That’s where you trade in your current home loan for a larger home loan, and use the “cash-out” for your new home improvement project.  For the same reasons outlined above, it may be worthwhile for you to consider doing this now instead of waiting.
Contact me for more info or to explore your options!

PLEASE NOTE: This article is provided for illustrative purposes only. It is not an offer or commitment to lend you money, and it is not an advertisement for a specific mortgage or a specific interest rate. Payment examples don’t include property taxes and home insurance. Contact me to run the numbers for your situation.

Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash

As home values continue to increase at levels greater than historic norms, some are concerned that we are heading for another crash like the one we experienced ten years ago. We recently explained that the lenient lending standards of the previous decade (which created false demand) no longer exist. But what about prices?

Are prices appreciating at the same rate that they were prior to the crash of 2006-2008? Let’s look at the numbers as reported by Freddie Mac:

Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash | MyKCM

The levels of appreciation we have experienced over the last four years aren’t anywhere near the levels that were reached in the four years prior to last decade’s crash.

We must also realize that, to a degree, the current run-up in prices is the market trying to catch up after a crash that dramatically dropped prices for five years.

Bottom Line

Prices are appreciating at levels greater than historic norms. However, we are not at the levels that led to the housing bubble and bust.

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy?

Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased over the last several weeksFreddie Mac, along with Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association and the National Association of Realtors, is calling for mortgage rates to continue to rise over the next four quarters.

This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 3.5%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows.

Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:

Mortgage Interest Rates Are Going Up… Should I Wait to Buy? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

Though you may have missed getting the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.

Renting or Buying…Either Way, You’re Paying Someone’s Mortgage

Renting or Buying…Either Way, You're Paying Someone's Mortgage | MyKCM

There are some people who have not purchased homes yet because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize that, unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s.

As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich,”

“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”

Christina Boyle, Senior Vice President and head of the Single-Family Sales & Relationship Management organization at Freddie Mac, explains another benefit of securing a mortgage vs. paying rent:

“With a 30-year fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have the certainty & stability of knowing what your mortgage payment will be for the next 30 years – unlike rents which will continue to rise over the next three decades.”

As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person with that equity.

Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 3.94% last week.

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States!

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States! | MyKCM

In the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia, they explained that homeownership remains cheaper than renting with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage in the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

The updated numbers show that the range is an average of 3.5% less expensive in San Jose (CA), all the way up to 50.1% less expensive in Baton Rouge (LA), and 33.1% nationwide!

A study by GoBankingRates looked at the cost of renting vs. owning a home at the state level and concluded that in 39 states, it is actually ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ cheaper to own (represented by the two shades of blue in the map below).

Buying Remains Cheaper Than Renting in 39 States! | MyKCM

One of the main reasons owning a home has remained significantly cheaper than renting is the fact that interest rates have remained at or near historic lows. Freddie Mac reports that the current interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage is 3.91%.

Nationally, rates would have to reach 9.1%, a 128% increase over today’s average of 4.0%, for renting to be cheaper than buying. Rates haven’t been that high since January of 1995, according to Freddie Mac.

Bottom Line

Buying a home makes sense socially and financially. If you are one of the many renters who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together and find you your dream home.

More Than 50% of Home Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs

More Than Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

According to a survey conducted by ClosingCorp, over half of all homebuyers are surprised by the closing costs required to obtain their mortgage.

After surveying 1,000 first-time and repeat homebuyers, the results revealed that 17% of homebuyers were surprised that closing costs were required at all, while another 35% were stunned by how much higher the fees were than expected.

“Homebuyers reported being most surprised by mortgage insurance, followed by bank fees and points, taxes, title insurance and appraisal fees.”

Bankrate.com gathered closing cost data from lenders in every state and Washington, D.C. in order to share the average costs in each state. The map below was created using the closing costs on a $200,000 mortgage with a 20% down payment.

More Than Half of All Buyers Are Surprised by Closing Costs | MyKCM

Keep in mind that if you are in the market for a home above this price range, your costs could be significantly greater. According to Freddie Mac,

“Closing costs are typically between 2 and 5% of your purchase price.”

Bottom Line

You need to speak with your lender and agent early and often to determine how much you’ll be responsible for at closing.   I have always wondered – Why do buyers wait till they are under contract to find out how much they need.  In many discussions I have found that most Realtors do not understand how closing costs work and also how much they really are.   With these two statements above it is no surprise why many buyers have challenges with the home buying process.

We have created a process called the Home Express Mortgage Plan that haelps our clients to know there numbers prior to contract thus helping them navigate the contract negotiation process and make the transition that much easier.

Unfortunatly it is not uncommon – Finding out that you’ll need to come up with thousands of dollars right before closing is not a surprise anyone is ever looking forward to.